The government is planning to allocate Tk 100 crore to rehabilitate the victims of river erosion across the country.
A finance ministry official said they would make the proposal in the upcoming budget following the prime minister’s directive.
If approved, it will be the first such allocation although it is not yet clear how the money will be disbursed.
Annually, river erosion destroys households of some 50,000 people, who comprise around 30 to 40 percent of the homeless in the country, the then water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said in 2016.
Some 13 percent rural people migrate to other parts of the country or abroad every year. Of them, 3.59 percent are internal migrants, according to the latest survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
A major portion of the domestic migrants are victims of river erosion, said a BBS official.
The Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) forecasts rivers may devour 4,500 hectares of land next year, which may make 45,000 people homeless.
Riverside areas of Madaripur and Shariatpur may face the worst erosion, the organisation said.
However, their predictions are only for the Padma, the Jamuna and the Ganges (upper flow of the Padma before meeting with the Jamuna) river. So the actual number of victims may be much higher.
Although thousands of people fall victim to river erosion every year, the government often takes ad hoc measures such as distributing relief.
There is no permanent allocation for rehabilitation of these victims, many of whom migrate to the capital and other cities.
The issue came to the fore last year, after the mighty Padma devoured a vast span of the riverbank in Naria upazila of Shariatpur.
Since September last year, around 5 kilometres of eroded riverbank displaced more than 43,500 people and damaged hundreds of acres of cropland in Shariatpur alone.
Eminent economist Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad welcomed the government plan. But he noted that proper utilisation of the fund will determine how the victims will benefit from the allocation.
Kholiquzzaman, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), a top development organisation, stressed proper identification of the victims and their need so that the worst victims get the benefit.
“It would be better if the government disbursed the fund through local government institutions,” he told The Daily Star.