Friday, August 18, 2017 | ePaper

CHT people facing shortage of basic needs

Humanitarian crisis feared in post-landslide period

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Badrul Ahsan with Rangamati Correspondent :
The people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) areas, mainly those in Rangamati district, have been facing shortage of basic needs as communication with the other parts of the country was snapped due to the series of landslides since last Monday night.
During a visit, The New Nation found that prices of all types of perishable and non-perishable food items more than doubled in the last six days. Shortage of fuel and food is on the rise in the areas.
The people in almost all urban and rural areas stay in dark at night because of disruption in electricity connection and short supply of fuel (kerosin and others).
They feared if the situation doesn't improve shortly, a humanitarian crisis may occur in the landslide-hit areas.
The New Nation reporter also found that a petrol pump in the Rangamati town was shut down as the pump ran out of petroleum.
Dozens of people with small containers queued up in front of the octane stand at the petroleum station on Thursday morning.
Three other petrol pump stations in the Rangamati district also stopped selling petroleum due to the shortage of supplies.
The people also had to buy essentials at steep prices as supplies ran short.
Taking advantage of the scarcity, some are selling a litre of petrol or octane in an open market for Tk 140-150 when its actual price was Tk 89.
Local businessmen said petroleum tankers last came to the town Monday as Rangamati's communication with the other parts of the country was snapped.
A kilogram of potatoes is being sold at Tk 40 while brinjal  at Tk 100 and a kilogram of green chilli for Tk 200. That is much higher than the usual.
A Chakma girl, who came to the kitchen market, said a kilogram of potatoes now sells at a price double the rate just three days ago.
Rangamati Deputy Commissioner Manzarul Mannan told The New Nation: "Supplies have fallen as communication is disrupted. It will take time to get back to normalcy."
"We are trying to bring goods by four steamers. If anyone charges extra at the market taking advantage of the shortage, the mobile court will be there," he added.
Situations in hospitals was also found critical for power outage. Patients at the hospitals are being treated in the dark.
The 100-bed Rangamati Sadar Hospital's resident physician Soutom Kewnchi Marma said surgeries came to a complete halt due to the power shortage. Even generators went out of order due to scarcity of petroleum.
According to the Roads and Highway Department (RHD), large potholes were created at 109 points of the Rangamti-Chittagong highway.
"I have no idea when the Rangamati-Chittagong highway will be ready for commuting," said Md Abu Musa, an engineer at the Roads and Highway Department of Rangamati.
As many as 146 people, including five army men, were killed in the landslide in Rangamati, the worst hit, while 34 were killed in Chittagong, six in Bandarban, two each in Cox's Bazar and Khagrachhari.
The death toll could rise further as rescue operations for many of the missing continued for the fifth day.
Bangladesh Army and Fire Service on Friday evening officially declared the end of the rescue operation in the district.
Till now, more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from the risky hilly slopes and taken to shelter centres in the district.

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