KHULNA: The flow of floating people in Khulna city has increased alarmingly and poised a big challenge to sanitation success across the town.
Their entry into Khulna has worried city authorities as these people are involved in disruptive activities.
Those include rickshaw and van pullers, helpers of trucks, buses and minibuses, vegetable vendors, fishermen, small traders, masons, staff of tea stalls and restaurants, garbage hunters and beggars. Some people with their low income are living sub-human lives in shanties and slums by erecting makeshift cottage with bamboo, polythene and straw.
Dr AKM Abdullah, chief medical officer of KCC, said slum dwellers suffer from various contagious diseases like diarrhoea, skin diseases, jaundice and pneumonia due to lack of sanitary latrine and safe drinking water. All the slum dwellers are deprived of civic facilities, including safe drinking water and electricity, he added.
Although most of the male members of such rootless people are working as day-labourers, the children and women usually collect polythene bags, unused plastic and metal products from different streets, lanes and by-lanes in the city. But a large number of such children and women are getting involved in various criminal activities like stealing, selling narcotic substances and prostitution in a bid to eke out a livelihood.
As a result, anti-social activities have also increased in the city claimed a good number of city dwellers. A portion of these homeless people choose begging as their way of earning, they said.
Sources in the law-enforcing agencies said members of the drug business syndicates force the street children and floating women to paddle the drugs such as phensedyl, heroin and cannabis among the consumers, taking advantage of their helplessness.
Mayor Khaleque said the number of poor and ultra poor is increasing day by day. Frequent natural disasters make the situation worse, increasing the risk of vulnerability.
Ambia Khatun, who works as a temporary housemaid to earn the livelihood for her physically disabled husband and two children, said they have been living in the slum adjacent to Rupsha River bank for the last three years.
“I wash utensils and take bath in the river water here,” she said, pointing to the dark slime that goes in the name of water. “But I fetch drinking water from a tube-well that is a 20-minute walk away. The water here is too polluted,” she added.