New York Times

June 30 1971


East Pakistani Economy Badly Hurt as Most Transport Is Crippled

By Sydney H. Schanberg

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Apart from the transport mess, ports such as Chittagong and Chalna are also severely hampered by a lack of warehouse space and by labor shortages because much of the work force has fled to the interior or to India. Because of the port congestion, the United States, which normally supplies East Pakistan with up to a million tons of food grains a year, has temporarily suspended shipments.

The other major food-scarce area is the delta region of the Bay of Bengal that was devastated by the cyclone last November that killed several hundred thousand people and destroyed most of the rich rice crop there. Food stocks are low on the islands and in the coastal areas, although conditions are not as critical as was originally feared because some relief food has been delivered .

Nevertheless, the foreign sources said, unless the distribution system improves, the region could become a famine area.

The Khulna district in the Ganges Delta also has a food problem, the sources said, because many Hindu farmers and farm laborers have fled. The minority Hindus have been particular targets of the army, which pictures them as agents of India and enemies of this Moslem nation. Another unknown is the long-run impact of the exodus of the six million Bengalis who have fled to India. Their departure, which has cut food output and industrial production, has also reduced consumption.


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