Morale of residents in the low-lying deluge-hit haor areas improved after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited on Sunday, haor residents told BSS.
They said they endure small blows almost every other year, but this year’s flash flood seems the worst in recent memory.
The deluge damaged nearly all of their boro rice crops, which is their primary means of living.
Hasina’s visit, however, had a profound psychological impact on them, perhaps more so than the relief package she committed to them.
“I saw some of my neighbours smiling for the first time since the flood hit in early April. Perhaps I too smiled for the first time in a month,” Mohim Das, 91, said.
Hasina visited Shalla, one of the worst hit areas 70-km from Sunamganj town, to see for herself their predicament. She told them she and her government would provide them with full support.
The support includes waiving the interest on agriculture loans for a time; distributing fertiliser, seeds other agriculture inputs, rice, and cash; subsidising electricity; and planning long term to turn haor areas into an economic resource hub.
The only person who took exception to the optimism was Prodip, 25, of Dirai. He said Hasina made the haor residents happy and optimistic to fight on. Yet he cannot believe that the cash incentive and relief would help people to survive.
“Relief operations should be stopped since a meagre portion of it reaches the real victims,” he said.
On her visit, the prime minister distributed 38kg of rice and Tk1,000 in cash to each victim.
Bina Das and Jharna of Bahara Union said this relief aid would greatly help their families. In fact, they said they required both, as they didn’t have any food to cook or cash for essential commodities.
An early monsoon in neighbouring Cherapunji in India led to the flash flood in northeastern Bangladesh and damaged Boro crops days before their harvest.
Over 850,000 families of 62 upazilas under Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Netrokona, Kishoreganj and Bharhmanbaria districts were affected.
[caption id="attachment_60871" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The Bilkumari Beel covers vast areas of Tanore and Mohanpur upazilas in Rajshahi. In every crop they plant, farmers hedge their life’s savings every season. On Saturday night, the Manda Jamuna River flowed through the area, flooding the beel as it swept across vast tracts of farmland. Husbands and wives, parents and children alike hold back their tears as they try to salvage the remainders of the crops. The flood ruined hundreds of acres of farmland, crops worth crores, and families aplenty. Resolute, the families still make futile attempts to prematurely harvest whatever little crops they can salvage to stock them near the Bilkumari Bridge away from the floodwaters. The photo, taken on Sunday near the bridge, shows farmers working together to save rice crops – still green with barely a streak of gold – with nothing but fortitude in their hearts to sustain them. Photo: Azahar Uddin