Loan sharks active in Aila-hit areas
When a large number of cyclones Aila and Sidr affected people are still homeless and trying hard to recover from losses, a section of loan sharks have started pressing them for repayment.
There are allegations that field level officials of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) are chasing the people in the Aila affected areas to realise loans with interests.
During a visit to the areas, this correspondent found that day labourer Nurul Islam, 48, of Rayenda Bazar under Sharankhola upazila of Bagerhat district was shattered by both the cyclonic storms -- Sidr of November 15 of 2007 and Aila of May 25 this year. The homeless day labourer had no other way but to sell a pitcher made of brass for repaying the loan installment.
Fisherman Shahin Sheikh, 40, of Southkhali said he was compelled by field workers of a big NGO to repay weekly loan instalment a day after Aila ravaged his homestead. "I took Tk 13,000 as loan from them", Shahin said.
Similar allegations were made by Yusuf and Belal of Southkhali union who were pressed by another NGO to repay loan instalments though they were badly hit by Aila.
"They are doing it in defiance of government directive to money lending NGOs for a respite in the Aila-hit areas", said Koira upazila Chairman Mohsin Reza.
Aila shattered all the six unions of Koira upazila rendering thousands of people homeless. Most of them are still out of jobs and passing their days almost without food and amid severe crisis of drinking water.
Although many of these homeless and jobless people did not get relief or financial support after the storm they now cry for relief from loan sharks.
The non-governmental organisations running micro-credit programmes in the coastal belts of Khulna and Bagerhat districts are yet to halt their loan recovery campaigns, it is learnt from several sources.