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Speakers at discussion on April 29 Ctg cyclonic devastation

Rehab landless people along embankments

30 April 2015

Staff Reporter :
A number of political  and socio-cultural organizations of Dhaka city and Chittagong district organized a disucssion on Wednesday to remember the horrific tragedies of the terrible cyclone  and tidal surge sweeping the country on April 29, 1991. Historically, this disaster was one of the worst of the 20th century.
The official death toll in the devastating cyclone was 138,000. It devastated the coastline and off-shore islands of Chittagong, Chakoria, and Cox's Bazar. It took several weeks to recover the bodies of the victims.
As many as 10 million people, by some accounts, were left homeless. Additionally, a million head of cattle were lost. Because of this, and the heavy loss of crops, shortage of food supplies posed a critical danger to the survivors. Sorrowful, haunting stories of this day are still in the mouths of people of the greater Chittagong region, specially the country's entire coastal belt area.
About 21 coastal right based organizations yesterday organised  a discussion titled "Remembering Cyclone 1991 and Save Coastal Land" at the National Press Club.
The organizations are CDP, COAST Trust, Dak DIye Jai, DOCAP, Dwip Unnayan Sangstha, Grameen Jana Unnayan Sangstha, Humanity Watch,ISDE, MMC, Nalsity Model Unnayan Society, PALS, PGUS, PRAN, Prantajan, Sangkalpa Trust, Sangram, SDS, SPEED Trust, Udayan Bangladesh and YPSA.
The speakers in the function said that the coastal embankment of Bangladesh erodes every year and the government spends  huge amount of money for its maintenance. But if the landless people were allowed to live on the slope of the embankment they would happily maintain the embankment through making their livelihood on it. This is how we could obstruct the tidal surge and salinity intrusion at almost free of cost.
Aminur Rasul Babul said, COAST implemented a pilot project on sustainable embankment management through rehabilitation of the landless people on it. The then government asked for a survey report from Water Development Board based on this successful project to implement all over the country. But that report was never published.
Naim Gawhar Wara of Disaster Forum said, isolated initiatives like embankment building and tree plantation are not enough to save the coastal land from huge erosion and salinity intrusion. It requires an integrated National Coastal Management Plan if we really mean the development. He said, the cyclone shelters are not suitable for staying 48 hours or more with only two square feet of space for everyone. We need to introduce cyclone resilient houses in the coastal area. It requires resource.

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