More than 35,000 people living at 20 char villages of Bagha upazila in Rajshahi district have been suffering from various crises due to absence of minimum civic amenities.
They are deprived of almost all basic facilities including medical treatment, education, transportation and communication, electricity, drinking water and legal support. They have been surviving fighting against river erosion, flood, poverty and land grabbing every day.
The chars are often miles of wide and school going students have to traverse long ways before crossing the river Padma to reach their schools. And the only viable vehicle in the char villages is boat.
There are six unions and two municipalities under Bagha upazila. 20 villages of Bajubagha, Gargari, Pakuria, Monigram, Bausha and Arani unions have been included in char areas on the river Padma.
The sufferings of the people of char villages Yusufpur, Dadpur, Palashi, Fathehpur, Nichpalashi, Kalidashkhali, Bimanpara, Chaumadia, Pakuria, Tiktikhipara, Dearkadirpur and Maniker char know no bounds.
Most of the char villages earn their livelihood through farming and rearing of cattle. But, the land grabbers often forcefully snatch away paddy and crops from their fields. Outlawed miscreant groups often take away their cattle.
Rabiul Islam, farmer of Polashi char said their main problem is the transportation problem. During the rainy season the char is completely isolated by swelling river water and is only accessible by boat. So, they are to cross the river by risking their lives. But during the dry season, the situation is further worse. That time, they sometimes are to travel miles on foot on scorching sand to reach the main land.
Rabiul also said that often people require emergency medical care for the fall gravely ill and often they die on the way to hospital in town due to abject condition of transportation.
It is learnt, there is only three primary schools and two high schools at those char villages. There is no college there. During every monsoon and flooding of rivers, the char schools remain completely isolated and closed.
There are no qualified doctors at the char villages. As a result, char villagers have to depend on the local quacks for their treatment. So, most of the times, they have to take medicine without any physician’s prescription. Children and pregnant mothers of these villages suffer from dire malnutrition. Most of them also suffer from various skin diseases. They are not conscious at all about health and hygiene because of their illiteracy.
People at the char villages have long been demanding for construction of bridges for their communication with the nearest city and towns.
Upazila Engineer of Bagha upazila informed that no road communication is available at the char villages. He even does not know if the government has any plan to construct roads at the char areas. In a place filled with sand, it is not possible to construct any metaled road or bridge, he informed.