Six months after Bangladesh emerged as a nation following the Indo-Pakistan 14-day war, the new country is slowly returning to normal.
Six months after Bangladesh emerged as a nation following the Indo-Pakistan 14-day war, the new country is slowly returning to normal. This film, shot by Karachi-based Visnews cameraman Bill Woodman, shows a strange ambiguity in the reconstruction and repair works going on in the capital, Dacca. On the one hand, bridges and roads which were badly damaged by Indian air strikes or by Mukhti Bahini bombings have been almost totally repaired -- although in some cases only temporarily. On the other hand, it is different to assess which buildings are just suffering from the normal wear and tear of rain and wind erosion, poor construction and lack of maintenance; and which have actually been damaged by the destruction of war. The majority of the one-and-a-half million homes reported by the United Nations as destroyed, have been almost totally rebuilt in their original thatch-and-bamboo or corrugated iron shack form.
It was also reported that more than half the country's 500,000 country boats -- essential for transport of people and food throughout the delta country -- had been destroyed. But it is now believed that about 90% are back on the waterways -- indicating that either the reports were exaggerated, or the peasants had hidden and submerged their boats during the conflict -- or, even more likely, a combination of both.
Power supplies and telephone communications are chaotic and subject to frequent failures -- mainly due to badly-installed ??? and poorly-connected lines.
However, work is going on and a degree of normally is evident in the city, on the eve of the crucial summit meeting which takes place on Wednesday (June 28) in the sub-Himalayan town of Simla between India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and pakistan's President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Although bangladesh will not be represented at the talks between the two leaders of the sub-continent, the issue of Bangladesh is one of the main topics of the talks -- which are aimed at reaching "a new relationship" in understanding after years of Indo-Pakistan bitterness and strife.