Plan to build 67 more cyclone shelters in coastal areas
To withstand natural calamities like cyclone and tidal upsurge, government will build 67 more cyclone shelter-cum schools in the seven coastal upazilas of Chittagong district.
Sources said the district administration recently sent a list with a proposal for constructing new multipurpose shelters to the ministries concerned.
When constructed, the number of cyclone shelters in the entire district will rise to 470 in 14 upazilas.
They said the cyclone Sidr in mid-November last year had ripped through the southern belt and wrought devastating havoc along the coasts of Barisal, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Khulna, Barguna and other coastal districts taking away scores of lives of both human and livestock.
At that time, Chittagong was also under great threat of Sidr, albeit escaped the wrath of nature. The administration had toiled hard during its pre-cyclone preparations to evacuate coastal people to safer places because of the inadequate number of shelters and miserable condition of the existing shelters. As emergency measures, the district administration then opened up different schools to provide shelter to the coastal people and that reality prompted them to realise the necessity of many more cyclone shelters in those vulnerable areas.
The upazilas where the proposed shelters will be built are: Anwara, Banshkhali, Sitakunda, Mirersarai, Chandanaish, Satkania and Sandwip.
Sources said the shelters would be used for multi-purpose, both as cyclone shelter and school.
“Of the 67 shelters, 34 will be used as secondary school and 33 as primary school purposes before or after any natural disaster,” said Abdul Halim, district relief and rehabilitation officer.
The shelters will be constructed jointly by ministry of education and relief to be financed by a foreign agency he said without elaboration. He couldn't give details about the budget for the proposed shelters or the name of the foreign agency.
Halim said construction of more shelters are badly needed as Chittagong is under a threat of another cyclone named Nargis predicted on May 2 to hit Bangladesh coast.
The official, however, refused to make any comment on the miserable condition and poor maintenance of the 403 existing shelters in the 14 upazilas of the district.
Sources said 50 per cent of the cyclone shelters require more or less repair work on emergency basis. Otherwise, large scale devastation and casualty are feared to take place in any repetition of the cyclonic storm like that of April 29, 1991.
They said around 64 shelters, out of 90, in the offshore upazila of Sandwip are in a vulnerable condition and requiring urgent repair for keeping them usable for the people of this highly disaster-prone area, which was devastated completely in 1991.
Anwara is another vulnerable upazila where 40, out of 60 shelters, are in very bad shape now, they said.
An additional deputy commissioner of Chittagong, on condition of anonymity, said alongside the construction of new shelters they need steps to repair the existing ones.
He said they will also try to turn some of those existing shelters into multipurpose one.