SUNAMGANJ- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today warned of tough actions against hoarding of food grains and inflated food price on the plea of sudden flood in the northeastern haor region.
"There is no shortage of food in the country, and hoar areas supply a very small portion of the national food demand," she told a rally of people in the noighbourhood at Shalla Upazila headquarters while on a visit to the deluge affected areas.
Therefore, the premier said, there was no reason that the flood could have inflated food price because of crop losses in the haor region and asked officials concerned to enforce a sharp vigil against increased food price.
The Prime Minister said the government simultaneously would examine whether there was any negligence in constructing embankments in haor areas as the collapse of such structures intensified the damage particularly of crops.
"Actions would be taken if anybody is found responsible for this (debacle)," she said.
Sheikh Hasina arrived here this morning to see for herself the woes of the flood affected people.
She said the farmers would not require repayment of their bank loans until the harvest of the new crop and "interest of the bank loans would be halved" to mimimise the financial losses of affected people.
She also announced distribution of fertilizer, seeds, other agricultural components among farmers free of cost and monthly allowance of Taka 500 for every effected family.
The premier urged the NGOs not to give pressure on farmers to pay installments of their loans saying the government through NGO bureau would advice the NGOs not to give pressure on farmers during their difficulties.
If necessary subsidy on electricity for agriculture would continue, she said.
The helicopter carrying the Prime Minister landed at Shahid Ali High School Ground at Shalla Upazila. The premier witnessed the flood-hit areas from helicopter before her landing. She also visited some affected areas by speed boat.
The Prime Minister held a meeting with senior officials and then distributed relief goods among the flood-hit people and gave necessary directives to ensure getting relief materials by every affected person.
Flash flood triggered by early monsoon caused inundation of vast swathes of the country's northeastern region damaging Boro paddy just a few days ahead of harvesting exposing thousands of farmers to a state of loss of livelihood in Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Netrakona, Kishorganj and Brahmanbaria districts.
Urging the people not to be afraid of natural disaster the Prime Minister said her government has made a standing order about the duties what are ought to be done by the officials, local administration and ministries and "they are doing their job accordingly".
"So there is nothing to be anxious about the supply of food and help the affected people," the Prime Minister said.
She added: "I want to make sure that we're always beside you. Not as the Prime Minister, but also as the daughter of the Father of the Nation and when was in opposition we tried to stand beside you during any disaster."
Sheikh Hasina said as many as 8,50,088 families of 518 unions of 62 upazilas were affected by the flash flood. Boro crops of 2,49,840 hectors of land were completely damaged and 18,205 houses were partially or fully damaged.
She said the government would take measures for reconstruction of the damaged houses while succors were already made available in every affected area.
The Prime Minister said a total of 587 relief centres were opened for distribution of relief goods. So far 4,224 metric tons of gratuitous rice and Taka 2,25,97000 were allocated as humanitarian assistance for the affected people.
The number of VGF cards would be increased so that no family is left out of the food programme to be continued until harvesting of new crop.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Food Minister Advocate Qamrul Islam, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, State Minister for Finance M A Mannan, State Minister for Water Resources Nazrul Islam accompanied the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister distributed rice and cash amount among one thousand families. Each family received 38 kilogram rice and cash amount of Taka 1000 from the Prime Minister.
Sheikh Hasina said the Ministry of Relief and Disaster Management has already deputed officers for food distribution and its monitoring who are sincerely rendering their services.
In this regard the Prime Minister also asked her party leaders and workers to monitor the situation and extend all possible cooperation.
The Prime Minister said her government would not take any food aid from any foreign country as a begging nation doesn't have any dignity. "If necessary we would important food," she said adding Bangladesh was born to live as a dignified nation.
Pointing out the potentials of the haor areas the Prime Minister said the government has undertaken plans to improve the living condition of the haor people.
Steps are being taken for construction of the sustainable homes in haor areas and supply electricity through solar system, she said.
Necessary plan was also taken for residential schools in haor and hill areas so that children can go to school every day without any huddle.
Flood-affected school children would be provided with necessary help, she said adding that the government would release fish fries in haor areas to improve commercial fishing in coming days.
Sheikh Hasina urged the people to keep their trust in Awami League saying the party founded by the Father of the Nation always devoted for the cause of the people. So her party would not tolerate any injustice, corruption and misuse as long as it's in power, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has a plan to diversify the livelihood of the haor people instead of making them dependent on cultivation of paddy alone.
"The government would ensure shelter and food for every family," she said.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)