1.4cr coastal people still out of shelter coverage
A large number of the people living in the coastal belt of the country, around 1.6 core, are not covered by cyclone shelters as only 19.2 lakh people can be housed in the 2,400 shelters now available for them in usable condition.
Even though a typical cyclone shelter can accommodate around 800 people and a minimum of 20,000 shelters are required in the region, only 3,976 cyclone shelters were built till the mid nineties. Out of which, 1,576 were damaged by river erosion or were abandoned due to their dilapidated condition.
Some of these -- located in remote and inaccessible areas of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali and Laxmipur -- have even turned into dens of bandits, drug traffickers or smugglers, alleged locals.
Locals cannot take shelter in a number of these as primary schools or cattle sheds are housed in these.
The Kuakata cyclone shelter in Patuakhali is off limits to locals as it is now a rest house of Local Government Engineering Department.
According to Cyclone Preparedness Program office in Barisal, 16 million or 1.6 crore people live in 13,500 square kilometre of high risk cyclone-prone coastal areas in 147 upazilas under 19 districts.
Among the 2,400 cyclone shelters in usable condition, 401 are in Cox's Bazar, 161 in Patuakhali, 42 in Barguna, 26 in Jhalokathi, 62 in Barisal, 31 in Pirojpur, 198 in Noakhali, 106 in Feni, 7 in Bagerhat, 28 in Satkhira, 152 in Bhola, 497 in Chittagong and 34 in Khulna.
Around 700 shelters that were built in the sixties and between 1972 and 1979 are now unsuitable for use due to absence of proper maintenance.
For 1,04,000 inhabitants of Manpura upazila of island district Bhola, there are only 28 cyclone shelters and 2 multi-storeyed mud houses (matir kella) to accommodate only 22,400 people.
In Char Fashion upazila of the same district, only 15 cyclone shelters and 18 mud houses are available for its 4,15,520 residents.
There are only 20 cyclone shelters in Pathorghata upazila of Barguna for 2,45,000 people.
In Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali, only 62 cyclone shelters and 26 mud houses are there to accommodate only 1 lakh of its 3.5 lakh residents.
Galachipa upazila has only 26 cyclone shelters and 10 mud houses for 5,00,000 people.
The situation is even worse in the isolated islands off the coast. Char Nizam has 1 cyclone shelter for 6 thousand people, Nijhum Dwip has 4 cyclone shelters for 20 thousand people and Dublar Char has 4 cyclone shelters for 50 thousand of its inhabitants.
No cyclone shelter is available whatsoever for thousands of residents of Dhal Char, Char Kukri Mukri, Char Motahar, Char Sakuchia and Char Zahiruddin.