31 May 2009

Relief efforts in south still inadequate

People in the south are still passing their days without food and drinking water as relief materials are either inadequate or not reaching all the people affected in the inundation caused by cyclone Aila. Bangladesh’s south were submerged with tidal surges whipped up as high as 13 feet by cyclone Aila which ripped through India on May 25. Some people in the south, however, alleged although the government and non-governmental agencies started reaching them relief materials, local government representatives, involved in the distribution in many cases, had indulged in irregularities. The government on Saturday confirmed the death of 12 more people, taking the official death toll to 167 from the tidal surge and storm associated with the cyclone. The offices of civil surgeons in the affected districts said more people had contracted diarrhoea, but no death was reported. People in three Koyra villages in Khulna said they were yet to get any relief goods after the cyclone, reports the correspondent in the district. ‘I did not receive any relief in four days. I am now in the upazila headquarters looking for some food and water,’ said Ayron Bibi, 43, a resident of a Koyra village, on Saturday. The Koyra upazila nirbahi officer, MM Arif Pasha, said they had supplied adequate relief through union councils. He said 1,050 tonnes of rice and 15 tonnes of flattened rice had been distributed till Saturday. Abdul Majid Sardar of village No 9 Sora of Gabura union in Shyamnagar said relief materials were yet to reach his village and Md Omar Faruk of Dumuria at Shyamnagar said they got only 400g of rice a day. Both of them accused local government representatives of indulging in nepotism in relief distribution. The Gabura union council chairman, Shafiul Azam Lenin, claimed there had been no nepotism in relief distribution in his union. He said 5kg of rice were given away to every affected family. Mongla upazila parishad vice-chairman Md Nur Alam said there only 60 tonnes of rice and Tk 2.1 lakh in cash were allocated for 1,07,980 affected people of 27,140 families and the amount was meagre. Reports from Patuakhali said diarrhoea situation in seven upazilas of the district had deteriorated. Seventy-four more patients were admitted to upazila health complexes, sources in the hospitals said. Attendants of the patients alleged the hospital employees were forcing them to buy intravenous saline from the market although saline was meant to be given free. The civil surgeon, Humayun Kabir, denied any shortage of intravenous saline and said he had not received any such complaints. The chief of army staff, General Moeen U Ahmed, meanwhile, visited Kalapara at noon and distributed relief materials among a few people at Nachnapara in the municipal area.