Hospital project gathering dust for 18 years
A project proposal for construction of three 10-bed mini hospitals for fishermen, bawalis and honey collectors of the Sundarbans is gathering dust for the last 18 years.
According to a source in Sundarbans Forest Division, there are nearly seven lakh fishermen, bawalis and honey collectors who depend on the mangrove forest for a living.
The project to construct three mini hospitals at an estimated cost of Tk 6 crore was taken up in 1993 with a view to providing medicare services to the aforesaid people.
Because, a large number of them in four ranges under east and west wings of Sundarbans Forest Division suffer every year from various diseases due to acute crisis of safe drinking water and polluted environment.
Besides, the fishermen, bawalis and honey collectors also die or become severely injured in attacks by tigers in the forest.
At least 8 fishermen were killed by tigers and crocodiles in the last one month in different places of Satkhira and Khulna ranges. In fact, many of them died for want of quick medicare services as there is no hospital near the forest, said DFO Mihir Kumar of the east wing of Sundarbans Forest Division.
According to the DFO, the ministries of health and forests jointly undertook a project in 1993 to establish three 10-bed mini hospitals at Burhigoalini under Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira, Nalian under Dakope upazila of Khulna district and Gopalbarhi under Sharankhola upazila of Bagerhat district at a cost of Tk 6crore.
Accordingly, the health ministry issued an official order the same year in September asking Executive Engineer of Public Works Department, Deputy Commissioner and Civil Surgeon of the three districts to take necessary steps including site selection and acquisition of land required for setting up the hospitals.
But there has so far been no positive move yet by the government for implementation of the project although lives of fishermen, bawalis and honey collectors are at stake as attacks by tigers and other wild animals are on the increase, said Koria upazila chairman Mohsin Reza and Dakope upazila chairman Sheikh Abul Hossain.