November 22, 2007

One by three hundred ninety

Days ago, Cyclone Sidr slammed into Bangladesh. Official figures say over 3000 are dead, and two million have been "left destitute". Going by India's last experience with the devastation of a Bay of Bengal cyclone, Orissa in 1999, those figures will likely rise.

According to that same report, the government plans to "distribute 15 kilograms of rice per month to each of the estimated 2.5 million [affected] people", among other relief measures. Let's assume that rice costs Rs 10/kg, decidedly on the low end of the price range for rice here in Bombay, but it's conceivable that it's available at that price in the bulk Bangladesh needs. Given that price, a back of my palm calculation gives a figure of $10 million/month for that rice distribution programme alone.

But of course there's plenty of other work to be done too. Water, shelter, rebuilding, plenty. In Orissa in 1999, one devastated district (Jagatsinghpur) prepared a post-cyclone report, and it estimated damage to water resources alone at about $20 million.

Those figures give you a sense of the scale of destruction cyclones cause.

Eight years after Orissa's calamity, the figures from Sidr must be at least comparable, and that's why the Bangladesh government has been promised a total of $390 million in international aid so far.

Of that amount, India will contribute one million dollars.

Enough, as one report pointed out, to "buy you a couple of decent apartments in Delhi."


Anonymous said...

Maybe they should increase the Temple Entry Fees and give to Bangladesh Rifles at the border.

Ankush Saikia said...

Hi Dilip,

I hope you remember me? My first novel has just been published by Rupa & Co. I've set up a blog for it at:

Looking forward to your feedback, and hoping you'll get yourself a copy!


Ankush Saikia.