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Haor flood victims in crisis

Scarcity of foods, livestock feed, medicines: ACC, NGOs, sufferers blame for building faulty barrage

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Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
Lakhs of victims in Haor areas have been passing a 'crisis period' as they have lost their crops, vegetables, fishes, domestic animals and other necessaries during the recent miserable flash flood in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.
They are now scrambling for food, livestock feed, medicines and relief materials to overcome the worst situation.
The people, including farmers, fishermen and day-laborers fall in danger as the local administration issued restriction to fish in hoar areas by observing the dead of fishes and ducks in last three days.
Meanwhile, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Local Administration, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and sufferers have claimed that the flash flood occurred in the areas due to irregularities in building barrages to protect the haors that caused damages of the crops and other goods.
A high profile ACC team led by its Director Mohammad   Bellal Hossain, has already has started investigation of corruption during the establishment of barrages in haor areas, said Sherin Parveen, Director of Sylhet Division of the ACC.
The team also visited the areas and talked with the sufferers and other concerned people on Thursday, she said.
Two engineers and an owner of a construction company have already been interrogated by the ACC and local government officials, said our local correspondent quoting the concerned officials in Sunamganj district.
The local administration has advised people not to consume the floating fishes and ducks in the water of Hakaluki Haor in Sylhet and Sunamganj
The devastating effect on croplands causes the death of a large number of fishes and ducks, a major source of livestock in the haor region, the officials said.
Distressed people with no belongings to sell are flocking the OMS centres opened in the flood affected areas. People were seen running after different points of open market sales (OMS) in the haor districts to buy rice and wheat at Tk 15 and 17 a kg respectively, they added.
Besides, fishes in the Hakaluki Haor have started dying from Sunday as paddy submerged under flash floods continues to rot and the fertilizers and pesticide used in the crops have made the water toxic for fish.
"We never have seen such a dying spree of ducks before. Most of the farmers have lost their ducks in just two days," said Nizam Uddin from Ashighar village besides Hakaluki Haor.
"Unexpected flood destroyed our paddy. We lost the main source of our livelihood. Then the fishes died. It was our source of dependency and thereafter we lost our ducks, our last source of livelihood," said Abdur Rahman, from Ghilachari village of the area.
"We have started the investigation against the corrupted people who were involved to build the barrages in two districts," said the chief of the ACC investigation team.
The team has already seized necessary files and documents from Water Development Board (WDB) for fair investigation, he said.
"The Sunamganj WDB built a barrage worth of Tk 68.8 crore that considerate the main cause of the flash flood. We have also found allegation of Tk 25 crore misappropriating in the construction work," he said.
The district administration claimed that around 82 percent crops destroyed in the flash flood, according to him.
The flash flood has submerged 1,41,000 hectares of farmland in some northeastern districts, affecting around 423,000 farmers, according to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
People who were supposed to sell their crops by now are buying rice from the market for daily needs after selling off their cattle and other belongings.
Director (monitoring) of Field Services Wing of DAE, said that 388,000 metric tones of food grains were damaged by the flood.
He also said that the Agriculture Ministry is yet to take any decision to provide any support to the farmers affected by the flood as this season already elapsed, according to the DAE. Around 380,776 mt of food urgently needed to save lives of over 150,500 cattle in the district, said Belal Hossain, the DLO of Sunamganj.
Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said, "The extreme poor in haor areas will get food through VGF programmes while the flood affected ones will get food-grain at Taka 10 per kg."
Dr Mamunur Rashid, Deputy Director of Agriculture Extension Department, Sylhet, said, "The toxicity of the water emerged due to the rotted half-ripe paddy. It caused the death of the ducks."
Deputy Director Mohammad Giasuddin of Sylhet division DLS told The New Nation on Thursday, "Directives were given to send samples of dead ducks to Sylhet for lab tests.
Manzurul Hannan, director general of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said that there was no denying the fact that fish and ducks were dying, but it was difficult to say that "these are happening because of the aftermath of flash flood." Sultan Mahmud, senior fisheries officer in Moulvibazar's Kulaura upazila, said that 5,300kgs of limestone was dropped into haor water to neutralise acidity.
The government has formed a joint team, led by MOLF Joint Secretary Sayed Mehedi Hasan to take the necessary steps to overcome the situation, ministry sources said.

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