VOL XI NO 250 REGD NO DA 1589

Friday, July 30, 2004

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HEADLINE
 
ADB eager to finance Eastern Bypass Project
Deluge leaves a trail of devastation
7/30/2004
 

          The devastating flood, one of the worst in recent memory, has so far taken the toll of about 475 lives and left a trail of destruction across much of the country, report agencies.
Although floodwater started to recede in some districts, flood-hit people across the country continued to suffer from the fallout of the deluge.
In most districts ravaged by the flood, the threat of water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery and fever was staring the flood-victims in the face.
The plight of the flood victims further worsened due to scarcity of relief materials, pure drinking water and firewood.
According to a bulletin of the Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) in Dhaka, the situation continued to improve in 23 northern and north-eastern districts.
But flood situation in the country's central districts including capital Dhaka remained unchanged and officials said it may remain unchanged for a few more days.
In Narayanganj, the flood situation improved while it remained unchanged in Bandar, Araihazar, Rupganj and Sonargaon.
While water started to recede, people were rushing to the relief distribution centres for help. But most of them returned with empty hands due to lack of adequate relief materials.
Commercial activities in the district also collapsed due to the prolonged floods.
The districts where the flood situation improved in last 24 hours are Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Comilla, Netrakona, Habiganj, Kurigram, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Naogaon, Pabna, Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Tangail, Madaripur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Narsingdi, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria.
The Brahmaputra-Jamuna and the Ganges-Padma rivers continued to fall at all points, the FFWC said. Most of the rivers in the Meghna and the south-eastern hill basin also register fall in their water level.
The current flood caused a colossal loss to the agriculture sector, road infrastructures and educational institutions.
In Savar and Dhamrai, three people, two of them children, drowned in the floodwater.
Of them, Mahbub (11) and Liton (9), sons of Harmoz Ali of Bawail village in Dhamrai, drowned today (Thursday) while Ojit Bireru (21), of Dharenda village in Savar drowned on Wednesday.
Meanwhile a minor boy drowned in the floodwater in Sadar Upazila of Munshiganj where the flood situation improved further. The victim was identified as Shahin (5), of Panchashar village.
Diarrhoea also broke out in the flood-hit areas of the district.
In Brahmanbaria, diarrhoea took an alarming turn with the recession of floodwater, affecting about 444 people. The number of diarrhoea-affected people in the district rose to 2,313 in last eight days.
Scarcity of oral saline and cholera saline compounded the sufferings of the people in the diarrhoea-hit Upazials of Sadar, Nabinagar, Nasirnagar, Bancharampur, Sarail, Akhaura and Kasba.
An acute scarcity of relief materials, food, pure drinking water and firewood prevailed in Narsingdi.
About 0.20 million (2.0 lakh) people in the district have been suffering for lack drinking waters as 90 per cent tubewells went under the floodwater.
Paddy crops on 3,565 hectares of land, paddy seedlings on 1,455 hectares, vegetables and jute on 7,070 hectares and banana and other crops on 3,000 hectares were also damaged by the floods in the district.
In Kishoreganj, army troops were deployed to save Lohajuri embankment in Katiadi Upazila.
Although the flood situation in the district remained unchanged until Thursday an acute shortage of food and oral saline was reported from the district.
The flood-affected people living in various shelters and relief camps in the district have been passing days taking only one meal a day.
Property worth about Tk 500 million was damaged in Chandpur in the current flood.
Aman crops of on 26,000 hectares of land in the district were damaged in the flood, said Deputy Director of local agriculture department.
Meanwhile our staff correspondent reports: Expressing deep concern over the devastating flood in the country, the visiting members of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) emphasised Thursday the need for construction of the Eastern Bypass to protect the Dhaka city from floods.
Members of the board of directors of the ADB led by team leader Jusuf Anwar met Thursday with Communications minister Nazmul Huda at his office and expressed eagerness to finance the bypass-cum-highway construction.
Nazmul Huda demanded an unconditional help from the ADB to construct roads and highways of the country after the flood.
Meanwhile, Tk 24.75 billion Dhaka Integrated Flood Protection-cum-Eastern Bypass Project which includes a 30-kilometre flood embankment has got another blow as the government did not allocate fund for the project in the current Annual Development Programme (ADP).
Residents of the whole eastern fringe have remained unprotected for years, although they were demanding for an embankment since 1988, when a devastating flood-hit the areas.
The embankment is to protect 124 square kilometres of area which is surrounded by the Tongi canal in the north, the river Balu in the east, the Demra Road in the south and the Pragati Sarani and the Airport Road in the west.
The government, in earlier ADPs granted only Tk 50 million each year for acquiring land for setting up the embankment on a priority basis. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project in 1999.
With the allocated funds, the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), the implementing agency of the project, has acquired one third of 170 km required land for the embankment.
However, according to the BWDB officials, the project work has come to a total halt as the government has decided not to fund it.
Residents of the eastern fringe blamed the government for the sufferings during flood, which can easily be protected by setting up an embankment.
"This is a huge project which needs foreign funds. The government has approached almost all the development partners but failed to get the fund as no one has shown interest," said an official of BWDB.
He however, said that a BWDB meeting has decided recently not to go ahead with the project before the formation of detailed area plan of Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (DMDP) of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkh (RAJUK), which may take two years.
"Even after the formation of the detailed area plan, it is uncertain whether the project will see the light because of non-availability of funds" said another official of the BWDB.
He said that the government should set up the embankment with its own finance to protect hundreds and thousands of people of the eastern fringe.
In the integrated project Tk 7.64 billion has been earmarked for constructing eastern bypass road, bridge and other related structures by the Roads and Highways Department, sources said.
Meanwhile, Tk 9.23 billion was allocated for the WASA for taking steps against waterlogging and the Dhaka City Corporation will have about Tk 340 million to improve the urban environment.
However, the Department of Forest and Environment was allocated Tk 210 million for afforestation and environment protection in the eastern part of the city.
A 30-kilometre embankment on the western fringe, stretching from Lalbagh to Amin Bazar, is already there to protect an area of 136 square kilometres, sources said.
On the other hand, as the rivers around the city have been swelling for the past few days with the advent of monsoon rain and floodwater, the residents of some parts of the city have been suffering extremely for the last few days.

 

Boats have become the main mode of transport for the deluge-hit people of Kamrangirchar in city. The picture was taken Thursday. FE Photo
 
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