Lightning panic grips Barind farm labourers

Our Correspondent | Published: May 22, 2018 21:53:45

RAJSHAHI, May 22: Farmers of Barind region are now busy in reaping Boro paddy. With the shortages of farm labourer, a new panic-death by being struck in thunderbolt has been added as a new panic among farmers.

According to the Rajshahi office of the district Relief and Rehabilitation, at least 42 people were killed in the district by lightning strikes or thunder during the last three years. Of the deceased, 15 were killed during last two months. Almost every day, people in the Barind region were dying by being struck in lightning. The death in lightning and the panic of by being struck by lightning strikes during work at the crop field has been now emerged as one of the major disasters in Barind region recently. 

During Tuesday noon, two people, Selim Hossain (30) of village Shimla under Godagari sadar union and Abdullah (7) of Chandlai area under Mohanpur union were killed in thunder strike. It is learnt, farmer Selim Hossain was reaping paddy with other farmers at a field in Shimla area at noon when the thunder struck killing him on the spot. Nearly the same time, child Abdullah was killed in thunder strike at a field in Chandlai of Mohanpur union.  Farmers were storing reaped paddy at the outer courtyard of a farmer where child Abdullah was playing.  The thunder struck and Abdullah was killed on the spot. A buffalo was also killed in the same thunderbolt strike. Two other farmers- Khaibar Rahman and Krishan Singh were also injured in the thunder strike.

Earlier on May 9, farmer Ansar Ali (30) of Batashpur village under Kamargaon union of Tanore upazila was killed and three others injured in thunder strikes.  On the same day, two more farmers named Sohag Ali (18) of Duboil Namopara village under Pachondor union of Tanore upazila and Elena Murmu (35) of Chakartiran village under Kalma union of same upazila were killed. Ansar Ali and Elena Murmu were harvesting paddy in the field while Sohag Ali was irrigating in the field.

There is an acute shortage of farm labour in Barind region. Most of the high rising trees, specially, the palm trees, have been cut off from the land demarcation aisles, the farmers who work in the field have become most vulnerable to lighting. By being panicky of thunder strike, many farm labourers were reluctant to work in the crop field. Even, during the Bangla month of Boishakh, there was frequent heavy rain fall with thunder bolt and storm. As a result, farmers were not daring to work in the crop field. As a result, land owners and farmers of the district were facing acute labour shortage to reap their paddy from the field.

Boro farmer Hasibur Rana said the farm workers were not available even after offering extra wages. The farmers and farm hands were not being agreed to enter into paddy field during the rainy or cloudy day.

Shafiqul Islam, upazila agriculture officer of Tanore informed, shortage of labour due to recurrent deaths by lightning in various villages have made most of the farm hands panicky to approach the field. As a result, the harvesting of Boro paddy is being delayed. He further said, so far 70 per cent of paddy has been reaped.

Abdur Rahim, vice chairman of Tanore upazila council, said at present panic of lighting was being prevalent in the Barind region as a result, farm labourers were not available even at high rate of wages. He called upon the government to set up anti-lightning devices at the crop fields of the upazila immediately to save valuable lives of the people.

Aminul Haque, district relief and rehabilitation officer, said death in lighting has turned to a natural disaster like those of other disasters. There was no advanced preparation to arrest the lighting and to save valuable lives from lighting. He mentioned, each family of the person who died in thunder strike was given a financial assistance of Tk 20,000 and injured were given Tk 10,000 financial assistance for treatment. He further said during last couples of years, the tendency of lightning has been increased.  Last year 1,18,900 palm seeds have been sowed in the upazila to counter the lighting.

Abdul Mannan, OC of the Rajshahi Meteorological Department, said northern region is a highly lighting prone area in the country. During the summer the intensity of lighting is increased. People should not go out of their houses during storm and lighting, he suggested.

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