Sunday, March 18, 2018 | ePaper

Livestock plague and farmers plight at haors

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MASSIVE death of fish and livestock in haors visited by flash flood in greater Sylhet, Kishoregonj and Netrakona region is causing renewed alarm to the people after they lost Boro harvest from early flood. Reports said hundreds of ducks and fish stocks are now floating in Hakaloki haors in Sylhet amd Moulvibazar districts where duck farming and fisheries provide a major source of livelihood to the poor. It is a double blow to farmers in all those districts after they lost Boro in the field and in our view immediate relief and rehabilitation work must be launched to bring solace to the affected people. .

It appears that the catastrophe has hit farmers quite unguarded at a time when they were preparing to bring new Boro harvest to home. It is a single harvest in a year to provide food and cash to families before another harvest arrives.       

The livestock plague in the haors is taking away whatever subsidiary economic activities were available to people for survival. Media reports have quoted duck farmers as saying they never saw anything like this before. One can now see innumerable bodies of dead ducks and fish floating in water everywhere. 

The livestock - such as duck and fish - is dying from water pollution as they were eating rotten half-ripe paddy. Even human being can be harmed if they eat such ducks and fish as experts said calling bigger health care alert. Reports from affected regions said rotting fish and ducks are spreading an unbearable stench in the air. TV footage yesterday showed dead fish floating in wetland while many were trying to catch sick fish from water bodies at huge heath risk to the people.  

Earlier reports said hundreds of thousand farmer families in the country's north-eastern region are facing uncertainty of livelihood having lost half ripen Boro in the field. Now the aftermath of flood is destroying other means of their livelihood. It is true that the government has already mobilized sales of low cost of rice to the poor in the flood affected areas but when most people have no cash to buy, we believe that the programme needs to be recast to provide the people both food and cash.

Our experience suggests that most such relief assistance ends up in the pocket of dishonest local leaders and dealers. So much more safety measures need to be at work to reach the much needed assistance at the doorsteps of the poor.  Meanwhile farmers should be given low cost loan and free seeds and fertilizer to grow food at high land where it is available.

We must also say flood is a regular phenomenon but why the haor protection embankments built by Water Development Board (WDB) melted so quickly on arrival of flood. We must say engineers responsible for the poor quality work need to be punished while the repair and rebuilding new embankments must be carried out with strong foundation. Every corruption in such project must be sternly dealt with.

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