THE ongoing flood, the longest ever since 1998, has already inundated about 40 per cent of the country with grave impact on about five million people in the north and central areas. Floodwater has also inundated considerably large areas in and around the capital Dhaka. Many areas in all five upazilas of Dhaka district are reported to have been submerged because of a rapid rise in the height of rivers around Dhaka. About 100 families are reported to have lost their houses at Nawabganj to erosion of a swelling Kaliganga, which was flowing about 110cm above the danger mark. All the 14 unions of Nawabganj are affected by the flood with about 20 per cent of the road network having been damaged. Other rivers around Dhaka such as the Turga, the Sitalakkhya, the Balu, the Bangshi and the Tongi Canal that are swelling are feared to inundate more areas in the next few days. The flood situation in Dhaka’s north and south city corporations has also worsened in a week, severely disrupting road communications and affecting people’s lives in areas in the east.
The flood situation in Bangladesh’s north, especially in the Rangpur division, has also remained largely unchanged and worsened in some areas. The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre says that the situation is likely to remain unchanged for at least two more weeks with prediction of heavy rainfall in upstream India. In such a situation, what is worrying is that the government has reportedly not scaled up its relief plans to help the flood-hit people. The government and its agencies concerned have even failed to reach relief materials, food and medicines, to a quarter million flood-hit people in and around Dhaka while thousands of people in northern and central districts, already going through financial constraints because of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, are living on the embankment and in shelter centres without access to food, drinking water, sanitation and health care. For more than five million flood-hit people, the government has so far allocated about 13,000 tonnes of rice, about Tk 3.5 crore cash and 1.4 lakh packets of dry food and about Tk 3 crore for baby food and fodder, as the disaster management and relief ministry says, which is inadequate.
Hundreds of families reportedly went hungry even on Eid-ul-Azha because of a poor and inadequate relief programme. The government must, under the circumstances, scale up its efforts to ensure food, drinking water and health care for the flood-hit people in Dhaka and in other parts of the country. The government must also plan and prepare for rehabilitation programmes once floodwater recedes.
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