Not a single family, who became homeless for sudden floods and river erosion over the last week, turned up at the government opened shelters knowing that it might be quite a while for them to return home.
Many of them lost their houses and every last pieces of tangible property to erosion while others suffered losses partly. All of them had to leave houses anyway as the Padma and the Gorai flowed above the danger mark at three places until Friday.
The government estimates and media reports showed floods since Sunday marooned about 30,000 families in Rajshahi, Kushtia, Pabna, Shariatpur, Rajbari and Faridpur with about a thousand of them losing houses to erosion.
‘Though our shelter centres are ready, there was none to seek shelter,’ Rajbari deputy commissioner Dilsad Begum told New Age.
She said that about 4,000 families in four upazilas were marooned by floods and 200 families had their homes lost to the Padma because of erosion.
She said people perhaps had gone to their relatives or elsewhere looking for shelter.
Anisur Rahman Sharif, Lakkhikunda union parishad chairman, in Ishwardi of Pabna, said people did not feel comfortable going to government shelters because of their lack of confidence in getting a respectful treatment there.
‘These poor men are used to managing on their own and relying least on the government,’ he said.
Layeb Uddin, chairman, Bagha upazila in Rajshahi, said people prefer to cling to their property and home as long as they could but when they had to leave homestead, they preferred staying close to it.
Shelters centres were not very common in the areas currently experiencing flooding but in areas where floods happen frequently people were similarly unwilling to go to shelter centres because of their poor management.
A Transparency International Bangladesh report studying July flooding of northern and north-eastern districts said that 86 per cent shelter centres in the affected areas did not have enough food supplies.
The shelter centres were so poorly managed that in 41 per cent of them had no toilet, revealed the TIB report.
As high as 82 per cent of the studied shelter centres did not have supplies of oral saline or any medicine, the report said.
About 76 per cent of families studied for preparing the TIB report complained about the government having no arrangement for bringing them to shelter centres.
The TIB report said the shelter centres were not enough to meet basic demand of people, let alone having facilities to take care of livestock that people like to take along while moving to safety.
Only seven per cent of the studied people sought shelter in government shelter centres in July flood that marooned over 6 million people in 28 districts, the TIB report said.
Rajshahi deputy commissioner Hamidul Haque told New Age on Friday that about 56 families lost their houses in Charghat but none of them were willing to avail government shelter facilities.
Hamidul said these families might need to wait a while to get hold of fresh land to build new homes but still they were not willing to come to government shelters.
He claimed to have distributed Tk 6 lakh among the families who moved to places unknown to the district administration at the moment.
‘They may have gone to their relatives,’ said Hamidul.
Floods marooned 4,000 families in low lying areas in four upazilas of Rajshahi, he said.
New Age correspondent in Pabna reported that about 12,000 people were marooned by floods in 12 upazilas with at least 600 of them forced to leave their houses.
But none of the families went to government shelter centres, he said.
Faridpur deputy commissioner Atul Sarker said that about 2,000 families were marooned in low lying areas in three upazilas but none was taken to shelter centres.
Generally the government turn local school or colleges as shelter centres. In the coastal regions, schools were specially designed for accommodating people during cyclones.
Although shelter centres were supposed to have raised ground in its vicinity for accommodating livestock supplies brought along by affected families, the facility often remain unavailable at shelters.
Disaster experts also criticise about improper distribution of government shelter centres, far away from most disaster prone places, requiring people to cover long distances on foot amid rough weather conditions to reach there.
New Age correspondent in Manikganj reported strong current on River Padma lengthened travelling time for ferries carrying vehicles across the river, leading to congestion tailing back four kilometres at Paturia point.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation manager Zillur Rahman said that about 700 vehicles were stranded on both sides of the river until 6:00pm Friday.
The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre predicted flood waters might start receding from Saturday morning.
The FFWC said that the Padma and the Gorai were flowing above the danger mark at Hardinge Bridge, Goalonda and Kamarkhali points until Friday morning.
It was the second major flood since July caused by opening of floodgates of Farakka Barrage in India. Days of incessant rain caused flooding in Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in late September.
The July flood was also caused after India opened floodgates at Gajaldoba following incessant rains.
The FFWC said rainfall decreased in the upstream over the past few days which would continue in the coming days.
The FFWC said 86mm rainfall was recorded in 24 hours until Friday morning at Shilchar in India.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department predicted a sustained decrease in rainfall over the next few days.