The Aila-Durgoto Sanghati Mancho (Aila-victims solidarity platform) and Aila-biddhosto Upokulyo Beribandh Nirman Gonosongram Committee (Peoples Movement Committee for Reconstruction of Aila-damaged Coastal Embankments) jointly organised a press conference on 6 September 2010 11:30 AM in Khulna Press Club, Khulna, Bangladesh with demand of emergency support to the Aila-victims for observing coming Eid-ul-fitr festival, the main religious festival of Muslims.
The written speech was presented by Mancho convener Advocate Feroz Ahmed. In the written speech Feroz Ahmed said, “after only four or five days, the whole nation is going to observe holy Eid with amusement and joy. But the Eid does not bring any joy to hundreds of thousands of Aila victims of Dacope and Koyra Upazila under Khulna district and Assasuni and Shyamnagar Upazila under Satkhira district. More than 100 thousand people still living under the open sky on the embankments even though 15 months have passed after the devastating cyclone Aila had hit the area on 25th May 2009”.
Mr. Ahmed said, “After continuous movement of Aila-durgoto Sanghati Mancho and Aila-biddhosto Upokulyo Beribandh Nirman Gonosongram Committee, the high profile government policy makers had visited the area several times and express commitment to repair the embankments before April 2010. But there is no noticeable improvement of the situation though the government has already spent around Tk 6 billion”.
He said, “the local MP (Member of Parliament) of Khulna-1 Mr. Nani Gopal Mondal has committed to complete tender process within last July 2010. The honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited the Aila-affected area on 23rd July 2010 and declared that the breached embankments would be reconstructed within next dry season in 2010. But no progress observed till now”. The platform blamed four interlinked forces such as BWDB (Bangladesh Water Development Board), contractors, owners of brackish water shrimp farms and local influential leaders for failure of reconstruction.
In the speech, the Platform said, “the Aila-hit people break their fast during Ramadan by drinking only water. They cannot always take Sehri (early morning meal), let alone prepare for Eid celebration. Their children are looking forward for a new dress like ours. But they are not able to provide any dress or improved food to their children. The Prime Minister has inaugurated distribution of House Grants for the Aila-affected people on 23rd July. Under this project, every family was expected to get Tk 20,000. However, those allowances are yet to be distributed”.
After report of several newspapers tracked by the Platform the Government has distributed 1,600 sharies among the women and 10 kgs of rice to each of the 6,000 affected families to observe Eid festival. The platform leaders alleged that such assistance from the government is ‘not adequate’. Besides, the holy Durga Puja of Hindu communities, who are majority in these affected areas, is going to observe in 2nd week of October. But no preparation is observed to support the communities to enjoy this main religious festival of Hindu communities.
Among others, political and civil society leaders including Greater Khulna Movement Committee vice president Sheikh Ashraf-Uz-Zaman, JSD city president Rafiqul Huq Khokon and district secretary Mohammad Kaykobad, CPB district secretary SA Rashid, Revolutionary Workers Party district leader Monirul Huq Bacchu, Bangladesher Workers Party leader Farukul Islam and Monir Ahmed, NAP district president Fazlur Rahman and secretary Tapan Roy, and Aila-durgoto Sanghati Mancho secretary Hasan Mehedi was present in the Press Conference.