The Aila cyclone hit people of coastal Khulna and Satkhira districts strongly on May 25, 2009. By collapsing few embankments, the cyclone submerged significant parts of the districts with strong tidal surge and left hundreds killed and thousand others homeless and distressed. The areas were not being rehabilitated and there was no move to take the affected people back to their lands that remained submerged to tidal surges.
Although there was adequate relief support immediately after the cyclone, that same stopped since September, 2009. The affected people were receiving nothing more than 20 kg of rice from the government per month, which was grossly inadequate for one family. There was no initiative from the government agencies to provide the suffering populace with potable water, sanitation, clothing and treatment. In the absence of supply of adequate food and potable water, people were nearly starving and suffering from chronic water borne diseases like dysentery, typhoid, diarrhea and skin diseases. While some of the affected people were living in cyclone shelters, schools and colleges, the majority of them were leading sub-human life in the makeshifts mostly built upon damaged embankments. Deprived from all basic necessities of life and in the absence of needed protection and support from the government, the affected people were forced to accept the indignity of refugee lives. Their cries for food, shelter, clothes, health and medicines, water and sanitation continued to fall on deaf ears.
As winter was approaching, the families living on the roadside and on embankments, having no protection against the cold, feared severe health crises, particularly for the elderly and the children. The suffering people were desperate to get back to their homes and engage into economic activities. The same could only happen when the damaged embankments were repaired preventing the tidal surge (bringing 6-8 feet water) from entering their villages. The suffering population that included the local elites, middle class and the poor demanded immediate reconstruction and repairing of the damaged embankments by January, 2010 as otherwise, the coastal rivers would bring in saline water on their agricultural lands making cultivation difficult.
Having failed to get any definite commitment from the local level government about repairing the embankments and rehabilitation, a fraction of the Aila affected people organised in the name of Dacop Nagorik Parishad, in collaboration with a national level NGO called Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), approached the High Court through a Writ Petition (No. 8483 OF 2009) for legal remedy. On 17 September 2009, the High Court issued a show cause notice upon the government asking it to explain as to why they shall not be directed to (i) reconstruct/repair the damaged embankments within February, 2010, (ii) protect and maintain all water structures from contrary use, and (iii) construct more cyclone shelters in the coastal districts to protect the legal and fundamental rights of the disaster affected people.