About 3,500 people in severely Aila affected areas of Dacope and Koyra upazilas in Khulna are still living on embankments even after seven years of the cyclonic storm that hit the country’s southwest region on May 25, 2009.
At a press conference at Khulna Press Club on Tuesday, green activists said that the ill-fated victims had to take refuge on embankments for long years as their houses were destroyed by Aila and they became landless as their lands had been eroded.
Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and five Khulna-based organisations – Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network, An Organisation for Socio-Economic Development, Jagrata Juba Sangha, Rupayan and Samaj Progoti Sangstha jointly organised the press conference to share their field level experience about Aila affected people marking the seventh anniversary of Aila.
Reading out the written speech, Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network chief executive Hasan Mehedi said that coastal embankments were still weak keeping the locals vulnerable to water surges.
He said that influential quarters had constantly been weakening the embankments damaging them to pour saline water in their shrimp enclosures as the authorities concerned were not active to resist them.
Hasan Mehedi said that such acts of the influential quarters could be resisted if the government implemented the Disaster Management Act.
He placed six-point demands including strict enforcement of the Disaster Management Act, rehabilitation of the people who were still suffering in the affected areas, strengthening coastal embankments in an environment-friendly way, stopping saline water shrimp farms in agricultural lands and enforcing the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Policy in every programme in the coastal areas.
Hasan Mehedi told New Age that the government could allocate Khas lands for the people living on embankments and provide them with easy loans to construct homes and for their rehabilitation.
Revolutionary Workers Party leader Monirul Huq Bachchu, AOSED executive director Shamim Arfeen, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association Khulna divisional coordinator Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul and Paribartan-Khulna executive director Nazmul Azam David also spoke.
As per statistics of the upazila administrations, Aila damaged 25,067 houses totally and 8,349 houses partially at Dacope upazila and 23,820 houses totally and 18,620 houses partly at Koyra upazila.
Source: New Age