Kabir Mia said, ‘What if a viral disease came, bahe, we not worth it. How many calls were coming in advance? I stay here in the morning, but it doesn’t work out. Nobody came to hire us. ‘Kabir Mia is a day laborer, lives in Darshana Bhurarhat in outskirts of Rangpur city. Every day he has cycled from there about six kilometers away to reach at Betpatti Charmatha junction in Rangpur city. As usual on 30th July 2020, he reaches there for searching works as a daily labour. Earlier at the normal time, the daily laborer has been hired in advance before the 9 am. But it is 10 am. Many of daily laborers like Kabir Mia gathers there in search of work. They have careful sights around the street. Whenever someone comes on a rickshaw or a motorcycle, they gather around him. But when they come to know that he does not come there to hire the labor, then their face becomes pale. This condition is called coronavirus.
Jahedul Islam’s voice comes out of the crowd when he is asked how the family survives if he doesn’t get a job? Dala-Khanta clasps in his hand and says, `Allah will help us, bahe’. Another day laborer Anawarul Islam says, `Yesterday we, a family of 4 people, did not eat rice in night. Even if you get a job one day by chance, you will get only a wage of Tk. 200 instead of Tk.500. Because of the coronavirus, the price of laborer has come down drastically.
The miseries of poor become inhuman during occurrence of floods in one-third of the country. The housewife of Amesha lives her whole life in poverty at Chilmari, under Kurigram Distict. With her van driver’s husband, they somehow manage their daily lives. They do not think about their poverty. Poverty has been become tradition to them. But the splashing water of the Brahmaputra has further enhanced the `tradition of poverty’ of Amesha. She has been forced to leave home due to occurrence of flood and taken refuge on the road. The water inside the house is equal to the chest, the tube well and the toilet are also under water. But the Brahmaputra does not stop there. The treaties with the clouds and upstream flows have caused immense misery to the families who have taken shelter on that road like Amesa in the rain and rain water.
Another housewife who has taken shelter in a hut with cloth and polythene on the road to Ramnaghat, says, `It is raining on her. Husband has no income. I cook rice in another hut. There is no water, no toilet and no place to urinate.’
The housewife says that even though she has taken shelter on the road, she sent her child to someone else’s house as water is rising there. But her husband has brought the child back to her as the flood water has also entered there. They have to spend the night with their children on the flooded road at risk. The question of when she will be freed from the suffering remains unanswered on her lips.
Kurigram District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer Abdul Hai Sarkar says, 485 villages in 57 out of 6 unions of the district have been submerged in the three-point floods since June 26. About two and a half lakh people of these villages have been flooded. There are about 22,000 people on the road with various dams including shelters. Md Akher Ali, a statistician at the Kurigram Civil Surgeon’s Office says, 15 people have been died in the floods from June 26 to July 24. 12 of them are children. According to the district relief and rehabilitation department, 69 people have died in the last five years in the district alone. Of these, 21 people have died in the 2019 floods, of which 18 is children. There is no news of drowning in 2016. In 2017, a maximum of 30 people has been died, including 20 children. In 2016, 6 people has died, including 8 children, and in 2015, one child died.
Wearing a raincoat and walking some distance, a teenage girl is sitting on a bed in a polythene tent on the road in the pouring rain, sewing on a needle and thread. Asked if she has received any food aid, the teenage girl says, `I am not hoping for relief. Who will give us relief, there is no relief.’
Over 37 lakhs people of 143 upazila’s in 30 districts have been affected by flood, according to the report of National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC). The government has distributed over 6,593 tons of rice, over Tk.2.38 crores in cash, some 66,872 packets of dry food and other relief materials among the victims, says the NDRCC report.
But the victims say, many flood-hit people are passing their days in starvation as the government’s relief allocation is insufficient. Besides in some areas, flood relief work has been halted as government officers are busy with the VGF (vulnerable group feeding) programme ahead of Eid ul Azha. However, government officials assure that flood-hit people will also receive food under VGF.