A platform for haors' development has demanded formation of separate haor affairs ministry to look after the development of the country's haor area comprising seven districts – Netrokona, Kishoreganj, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Habiganj and Brahmanbaria.
Leaders of the "Haor Affairs Ministry Implementation Movement Forum" made the demand at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Friday.
Iqbal Hossain, president of the forum, said, "The haor region constitutes one-fifth of the total area of the country where 2.5 crore people live. 35% of people here live below the extreme poverty line. Haor people, every year, face huge economic losses due to floods and drought.''
However, 35% of the total paddy of the country is supplied by this haor area. The haor region has numerous mineral resources including gas, stone, sand, limestone, white clay, glass sand, uranium and gold, he added.
"Haor residents have long been deprived of adequate education, health and transportation facilities. Due to the lack of proper planning of the government, the fate of haor residents is not changing. That is why we demand a separate ministry like the Chattogram Hill Tracts Ministry," the forum president said.
Rubel Shankar Biswas, director of online channel 'Haor TV', said: "There are 17 ministries, 34 departments working on Haors' development, under which the government is already spending Tk28,000 crore on 153 projects. But due to mismanagement, lack of coordination and lack of supervision, the lion's share of this allocation is being wasted."
If the government conducts all haor-centric development activities through one ministry, haor people will have real development, he argued. Additionally, the waste of government money will be reduced, he maintained.