Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled for today to visit Sunamganj, the worst affected district in recent flash flood in the haor belt, while the list of affected people has yet to be completed.
The flash flood damaged standing boro crops and caused death of fishes and ducks in the haro areas crippling farmers in the region.
The prime minister is supposed to reach Sulla upazila headquarters at about 10:00am. She would inaugurate the relief distribution among the local ultra-poor flash flood-hit farmers, district administration sources said.
Sunamganj deputy commissioner Sheikh Rafiqul Islam told New Age on Saturday that all preparations had already been completed to maintain strict security in the area during the prime minister’s visit.
Hasina would address a meeting of the district-level officials at about 12:30pm.
‘The honourable prime minister would make queries over handling the flood situation and would give her instructions to make the government relief programmes a success,’ the deputy commissioner said.
Responding to a query, he said that the people’s representatives of the upazila and union councils had been asked to prepare the lists of the affected families of their respective areas for the distribution of cards for Vulnerable Group Feeding project.
District relief and rehabilitation officer Shakil Ahmad, however, said that the lists of families entitled to VGF cards could not be finalised so far.
‘Local union chairmen might have been submitted the proposed lists for their respective unions to upazila administrations by this time. But, the lists are yet to be finalised since most of the government officials and public representatives are busy now with the prime minister’s visit,’ he said.
He said that 1.5 lakh flash flood-hit families in the district would be provided with the VGF cards and each cardholder would be offered 30kg rice and Tk 500 in each for a month under the government’s 100-day programme until July 31.
A number of public representatives alleged that the number of VGF card offered for their areas was very insufficient against the number of affected families.
Almost 95 per cent of standing boro crops planted on 2.24 lakh hectare land of 254 wetlands in Sunamganj was damaged in the flash flood caused by excessive rainfall and onrush of water coming from India, the sources said.
Derai upazila chairman Hafizur Rahman Talukder said that 16,500 families would be selected for VGF cards while all of about 45,000 families at the upazila were either farmers or related to agricultural works and they were badly affected in the flash flood.
‘Only 16,500 cards are too inadequate. At least 10,000 more VGF cards are needed at the upazila,’ Hafizur said.
He alleged that the fair price sale of rice, another government programme to provide food support to the poor, for Tk 10 a kilogram was yet to be launched at the upazila.
Jamalganj upazila chairman Shamsul Alam Jhunu alleged that no relief goods reached most of the ultra-poor flood-affected families of the upazila.
He said that the government officials were asked to start distributing relief among the VGF cardholders by May 5, but there was least possibility to maintain the deadline as the list of families for the distribution of VGF cards was yet to be completed, he added.
‘Apart from inadequacy of government grants, unexpected delay in distribution of relief materials has intensified the sufferings of the affected people,’ the upazila chairman observed.
Local lawmaker Pir Fazlur Rahman Misbah said that the open market sale of rice could be more supportive, if the sale centres were opened at all unions of the haor region.
‘Only three OMS centres and 6 tonne food grains for each upazila, where 35,000 to 45,000 families are living, is not enough by any means,’ Misbah said, adding that the open market sale would not be able to reduce sufferings of the people until the sale centres were installed at union level.
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