Shocking shelters

September 22, 2013

Unfit cyclone homes in Patuakhali await disaster
The dearth of a required number of cyclone shelters coupled with the dilapidated conditions of the existing ones poses a threat to the people of Patuakhali people during the cyclone-prone season between May and October. People in the district still reel from the shock and pain that they had to endure as a result of cyclone “Mahasen”, which hit the Bangladesh coast on May 16. It, however, left no serious destruction.
Being asked by the local administration to move to safer places, thousands of coastal people in the district rushed to cyclone shelters for safety on May 15.
But the cyclone centres were not enough to accommodate these people. Moreover, the existing ones remained in such dilapidated conditions that they did not dare to enter those buildings.
Fazlur Rahman, chairman of Chalitabunia union in Rangabali upazila, said there were three cyclone shelters that could at best accommodate around 4,000 people, whereas the union has around 27,000 people.
He demanded at least five more cyclone shelters for the people in the union.
The condition of different upazilas in the district is also the same as no significant measures either to construct new cyclone shelters or to repair the dilapidated ones have so far been taken.
Abdul Haque of Arojbagey village under Dashmina upazila in the district, who lost all 12 members of his family in the 1970 cyclone, said, “We pass our days in anxiety during the season from May to October, as cyclone shelters are not sufficient here.”
Shanti Ranjan Baidya, district relief and rehabilitation officer in Patuakhali, said there were 322 cyclone shelters in eight upazilas of the district which could not give shelter to a large number of people.
Twenty-four of them were also useless as they had been in dilapidated conditions for long, he added.
The 1,297 cyclone shelters in Patuakhali, Barguna and Bhola districts can hardly accommodate around 20 lakh people, whereas the population there is around 47 lakh, according to the officials of the relief and rehabilitation offices in the districts.
As a result, a very large number of people in the districts, mostly living in around 500 chars, fall easy prey to various natural disasters in the absence of a required number of cyclone shelters.

-Input from The Daily Star

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