1 June 2009

Donors pledge support for cyclone-hit

Food and disaster management minister Abdur Razzaque has said the government has secured assurances from the donors on supports in the rehabilitation efforts for the cyclone-hit people. The government will need foreign help to overcome the huge losses caused by cyclone, he said on Saturday and added that a meeting was already held with donor countries and agencies, as well. The government was yet to assess the exact losses caused by cyclone Aila on May 25. The meeting to discuss the losses and other relevant problems was held at the food ministry and attended, among others, by agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury, health minister AFM Ruhal Haque, water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen and fish and livestock minister Abdul Latif Biswas. Razzaque, who presided over the meeting, said work on the losses from the cyclone and tidal bore was on-going. The minister called upon all, including the opposition parties and NGOs to help the distressed. He said because of the tidal surge, 213-km embankment in the coastal area was totally affected and 1128 km embankment partially. Some 213-km embankment needs immediate repair at a cost of Tk 116 crore, according to the Water Development Board. The meeting approved the fund, of which Tk 75 crore would come through nearly 25,000 tonnes of rice and wheat and the remainder in cash. The Roads and Highway Department will repair about 730-km highway at a cost of Tk 103 crore. The minister said tidal surge affected wide areas and every family in the areas would get 29 kg rice as relief. He said the main problem now was water, for which arrangement was being made. If need be, helicopter will be put on the service to supply water. There are problems with livestock animals and their food and the government was thinking of setting up 'Kella' or shelters in highlands for animals, he added. He said in the cyclone-affected areas 15,150 tonnes of rice and Tk 2.75 crore have been distributed. Sarees and lungis have also been also sent to different areas. Another Tk 10 crore and Tk 20 crore specifically for house reconstruction were sanctioned on Sunday. Health minister Ruhal Haque said diarrhoea broke out in the affected areas with nearly 200 people attacked.