5000 families rendered homeless, 700 establishments ruin in Padma erosion
The devastating erosion of Naria upazila by the mighty river Padma of Shariatpur district has not stop by any way.
The erosion has taken a serious turn at Bashtola, Sadhurbazar and Mulfotganj bazar areas of the upazila on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the main building of 50-seat Naria Upazila Health Complex which is situated at Mulfotganj devoured by the Padma River and the rest 12 buildings under this hospital are also ready to go under water at any time.
The health services in the only government hospital of Naria upazila have been suspended due to the erosion threat. The valuables of the hospital, including furniture, have been shifted to safer place.
According the local upazila administration statistics, at least 4 thousand families have become homeless by the erosion of the Padma in last two months and 700 business establishments were devoured by the river.
Besides, hundreds of acres of arable land, thousands of trees, some 10 bridges and culverts, 20 educational institutions with mosques and madrasa, 4 private clinic and diagnostics centres, 2 private hospitals, 20-km long pucca road, four gardens of banana and mangoes have also been eroded during this time.
All of the victims of river erosions have taken shelter on other’s land, in rented houses, or on roadsides or stayed under open sky. They have no money to manage food for their family.
The affected people who have taken shelter at different places are suffering from various diseases including cold fever, dysentery, shigella, diarrhoea, enteric fever, and Hepatitis for want of pure and safe drinking water.
Most of the people passing their days half-fed and un-fed as there is no work for income. Finding no works, most of the floating people resort to begging and sometimes even resort to anti-social activities.
A large number of women are engaged in earth digging, at hotels, brick-fields and husking mills. The number of women is increasing as agriculture labourer during recent period, locals said.
Finding no other way of income, these homeless and helpless people are increasingly engaging themselves in various hard work to eke out their livings.
Some women labourers told this correspondent that the employers did not pay the female labourers as much as they pay the male workers for the same jobs. The women are always considered cheap by the employers in terms of wages.
In the early morning on Thursday, while visiting the erosion affected areas like Mulfotganj, Bashtola Sadhurbazar and Sureshwar under Naria upazila, this correspondent witnessed a grim scenario of the erosion areas.
The affected areas have become desolate as most of the inhabitants of the once throbbing human settlements have left for elsewhere and the rest are also packing up their belongings.
The local people have complained that the government has neither taken any initiative to provide relief materials to the victims as yet nor any step to protect Padma erosion.
Meanwhile, four 3-stroyed buildings of Imam Hossain Dewan and Nur Hossain Dewan of Mulfotganj area have been devoured by the river in the last week by continuous erosion.
Besides, 600 shops of 2 hundred years old Mulfotganj Bazar under Naria Upazila have been devoured in the same time.
At least 1000 business institutions of Mulfotganj Bazar including government and non-government offices, bank, insurance, pharmacy, school, madrasa, mosque and other institutions have remained threatened by Padma River erosion.
Mulfotganj Madrasa, the one of the oldest institutions of Naria upazila may be devoured by the river at any time.
The people of this area pass sleepless nights. They are shifting their houses to other places. No help from the government came to these victims, they complained.
Imam Hossain Dewan, former Chairman of Kedarpur Union under Naria Upazila said, “We have tried to save our houses by making dams with bamboo, trees, sand and other elements ourselves but could not protect our asset. We are now helpless and hopeless. The Padma has destroyed us totally.”
Shahidul Islam Babu Rari, Mayor of Naria Pourashava, said the river has also devoured Chonidipur bus stand, Chondipur launch ghat and WAPDA bazaar, Saheberchar bazaar and Sureshwar bazaar. A port of 200-year old WAPDA launch ghat has already gone into the Padma river.
He also said the strong current of the Padma has already washed away the Chondipur-Sureshwar road and Naria Pourashava, Mulfotganj Madrasa, Naria bazaar, Sureshwar High School and College are threatened by Padma erosion.
The map of Naria and Jazira upazilas has already been changed and shrunk due to random erosion by the Padma River.
The locals said the Padma has become more furious this year than the previous years. The erosion of the Padma occurs twice in a year- once at the time of onrush of flood water and again at the time receding water with increasing of water flow in the river Padma.
The erosion affected people of the district urged the government to take immediate steps to build up flood control embankment to check erosion and demanded rehabilitating the erosions hit floating people.
Sanjida Yasmin, UNO of Naria has distributed dry food among 2500 erosion victims. Besides, tins and cash money will be distributed among 350 erosion victims soon, UNO of Naria Upazila said.
Besides, AKM Enamul Haque Shamim, Organizing Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League, distributed cloths, rice, lentil, oil, dry food and cash Taka among 1200 river erosion victims who are very helpless and homeless.
Md. Shafikul Islam, Executive Engineer of Water Development Board, Shariatpur said, “We have already built half of Sureshwar-Wapda embankment to protect Padma erosion. We will build up the embankment to protect Padma erosion as early as possible.”
Shariatpur deputy commissioner Kazi Abu Taher said, “We have been trying to give food, medicine and shelter to the river erosion victims so that they can live and survival.”