Dhaka, Bangladesh
Flood wreaks havoc on crops, fisheries in Rajshahi div

Flood wreaks havoc on crops, fisheries in Rajshahi div

Spl govt agri-rehabilitation prog suggested

News Report It was like a great deluge as surging water from across the border coupled with downpour burst Atrai riverbank and kept flooding croplands, roads and villages around. Most parts of the districts under Rajshahi division were hit by the latest spell of flooding coming from the bordering northern Naogaon district, but the situation looked fearsome in areas close by the Atrai river, including Baghmara, Durgapur and Puthia upazilas of Rajshahi and parts of Bogura, Natore and Sirajganj districts. "Water level was swelling by a cubit every day. Fishes from ponds were washed away, crops submerged and roads inundated. People from distant areas are flocking in for fishing shoals of fish washed away," narrates Abdur Rahman of Ratugram in Durgapur, a Malaysia-returnee and local Awami Leaguer, how the latest flood hit when people were reeling from previous spells. He said the floodwater is receding now and felt that massive agricultural rehabilitation programme should be taken under government initiative and supervision for this belt surrounding Taherpur, a river-port on the Baranoi River which is famous for best-quality farm products. A BSS report quoting officials says standing crops on around 21,210 hectares of land worth about Taka 255.73 crore have been damaged by the latest flood, affecting over 1.43 lakh farming families in different districts under Rajshahi division. Various crops like transplanted aman paddy, blackgram, advanced vegetables, groundnut, betel leaf, banana, green chili and direct-seeded aman paddy were affected badly by the floodwater which was experienced over three months till the end of September. Latest official data said the deluge has affected the transplanted aman on 16,256 hectares of land, vegetables on 7,392 hectares, blackgram on 3,864 hectares and betel leaf on 25 hectares of land. Meanwhile, normalcy has started returning to the affected areas and the marooned people have started getting back to their normal life as water level in many of the rivers and tributaries was recorded a continuous fall. The flood, however, left a trail of destruction in the respective affected areas, particularly Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore, Bogura and Sirajganj districts, which will take more time to get back a completely normal situation, officials said. Crops on 6,280 hectares of lands were affected in Sirajganj district followed by 5,887 hectares in Naogaon, 3,857 hectares in Natore, 3,202 hectares in Rajshahi and 1,804 hectares in Bogura. The flood brought untold sufferings to the public life in addition to the crop damaging and overflowing a huge number of fish farming ponds and canals. Only in Shingra upazila in Natore, public assets like fishes, agriculture, livestock and other physical infrastructures valued around Taka 200 crore were affected by the second phase of flood, said Shafiqul Islam, chairman of Shingra Upazila Parishad. "Around 50 dwelling houses have been devoured amid the collapse of a flood- protection embankment in Sholakura area. In the past two phases of flood, around 50 kilometers roads have been affected," he added. Financial assistance and relief materials were distributed among the flood- victims on behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the upazila chairman said. "The affected people will be rehabilitated after listing them as soon as possible." Bagmara Upazila Chairman Anil Kumar Sarker said some 13 out of the total 16 unions of the upazila have become affected. Puthiya Upazila Chairman GM Hira Bachhu said the extent of losses by the flood may be Taka 10 crore in the upazila. Upazila Project Implementation Officer Faridul Islam said measures were taken to support the affected people. In Atrai upazila of Naogaon district, more than one lakh people have become affected amid excessive rising water level in the Atrai River. At least 15 houses were devoured due to collapse of flood protection embankment of Nagar River. Hatkalupara Union Chairman Abdus Sukur Sarder said his union is "the worst- affected one among eight unions of the upazila by the entire first, second and third phases of flood." Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sanaul Haque said they are distributing relief materials among the flood affected people. Shamsul Wadud, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Naogaon, said standing crops and vegetables on 5,887 hectares of land have, so far, been damaged. Meanwhile, more than 1.73 lakh flood- affected families consisting around 6.91 lakh people in different districts of the division have, so far, received relief materials to overcome their livelihood- related hardships caused by the natural disaster. The government, as part of its instant humanitarian assistance to cope with the catastrophic situation, has allocated 1,726.1 tonnes of rice, Taka 45.02 lakh in cash, 24,030 packets of dry-food, Taka 20 lakh for baby food and Taka 34 lakh for animal feed. Moinul Islam, additional commissioner of Rajshahi division, said distribution of the allocated relief materials among the affected families in the division is on final stage. "Apart from this, 2,078.9 tonnes of rice, Taka 30.46 lakh, 1,967 packets of dry food, Taka one lakh for baby food and Taka five lakh for animal feed remain in stock for distribution," he added.

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