Dhaka: The mayor of Chittagong city in southern Bangladesh said on Sunday that he would pay hundreds of beggars a daily wage to keep them off the streets during the cricket World Cup.
Manzur Alam said that about 300 disabled beggars would be given 150 taka (USD 2) a day after the tournament`s opening ceremony on February 17 to compensate them for loss of earnings.
"We want to keep them off the streets at least for two months during the World Cup. Bangladesh is a host of the prestigious event. A lot of tourists will be here and they don`t like to see beggars," he said.
Alam said he would meet with beggars` representatives on Wednesday to organise the payments and discuss other benefits such as free food and clothes.
"We want to treat the issue as humanely as possible. Many of these beggars are disabled and many have families and their children studying in schools and colleges. So obviously, they must be compensated well," he said.
Excitement is building in impoverished Bangladesh as it prepares to co-host the cricket World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka.
Local sports fans are desperate to see their team play on home soil, and riot police have been called in to quell unrest in huge queues for tickets.
The national side, captained by superstar all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, have enjoyed a recent improvement in form and hopes are high for success in group stage matches against major teams such as India and England.
After the opening ceremony in Dhaka, the capital will hold six games and Chittagong will host two matches.
According to a 2005 study, Bangladesh has about 700,000 beggars, with those in urban areas earning an average of 100 taka a day from donations.