After years of peaceful existence in the house she had built with her husband at Sardob village in Sadar upazila, Mohila Begum saw the local river swallow it one night.
The family now lives in a makeshift plastic shed on the roadside. “I lost my house to riverbank erosion and now I have taken shelter on the roadside. Neither I have money to rebuild my house nor any work to sustain my livelihood," Mohila says.
She is not alone. Some 8,000 families displaced by riverbank erosion over a period of time are now staring at an uncertain future as the local authorities are yet to take any concrete steps for their rehabilitation.
Riverbank erosion is a common problem along the mighty rivers of Bangladesh, including Brahmaputra, Dharla, Teesta, Dudhkumar and Shonabhari, particularly during the monsoon, eating up farmlands and homes across the country.
This year, the residents of Kurigram had been the worst hit as floods wreaked havoc on the district for the fifth time. Hundreds of residents rendered homeless in the district claim they have not got a single penny from the government.
Jahir Uddin, another resident of Sardob, says, “I lost everything to riverbank erosion, except the tin roof of my three houses. I have placed those in an open place. I was also forced to take a loan of Tk 20,000."
According to sources at the District Relief and Rehabilitation office, some 6,000 families in the six upazilas of the district have been rendered homeless due to prolonged flood situation and river erosion.
A list of the affected families has, however, been sent to the ministry concerned, the sources said.
Of the 6,000, some 60 families have taken shelter at Sardob flood control embankment. Neither they have any work nor any money to cultivate crops on parts of their farmlands spared by the devastation.
Ali Hossain, who has taken shelter at Jagomohoner Char under Bhogdanga union in Sadar upazila, says, “I have lost two houses. I am really struggling to earn two square meals a day. So far, we have got no help from the government."
Though some affected people in Jagmohoner Char, Pachgachi and Jatrapur in Sadar upazila, Nunkhawa and Raiganj in Nageshwari upazila, Char Bhurungamari in Bhurungamari upazila, and Thetrai of Ulipur upazila got relief materials during the floods, they are still waiting to be resettled.
When contacted, Abdul Hye Sarkar, district relief and rehabilitation officer, said, “A list was sent to the department concerned, seeking cash and corrugated iron sheet for the riverbank erosion victims. Also, assistance will be provided to them after securing allocation from the ongoing rehabilitation programme.”