Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday ordered continued review of preparedness measures for facing disasters alongside launching of a nationwide awareness campaign attributing repeated incidents of fire to lack of wakefulness.
“Review continuously the government initiatives for successfully handling the natural disasters and fix what should be done,” she said at a National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) meeting at the PMO.
Simultaneously, she said, a nationwide awareness campaign has to be launched alongside taking timely measures to minimise damages from the disasters.
“Creating awareness among the people is necessary . . . alongside taking timely measures from the national, organisational and personal level to minimise disaster damages,” she said.
The premier herself heads the NDMC which incorporates ministers, senior civil and military officials including chiefs of the three armed forces and heads of law enforcement agencies.
The premier asked concerned authorities to publicise the government’s disaster related directives to let everyone understand what one should do while facing disasters.
Sheikh Hasina urged all stakeholders to work in a coordinated manner to minimise people’s sufferings during floods and all other natural disasters asking all to keep in mind that geo-physical features exposed Bangladesh to repeated natural disasters.
“So, we have to live with the phenomenon with necessary plans to keep the extent of damages and loss of lives to a minimal level during any catastrophe,” the premier said.
The premier said massive infrastructural developments also invites disasters like inferno while referring to the recent FR Tower and Churihatta blazes in the capital that claimed many lives.
She said her government, however, always responded very fast whenever it received forecast of any disaster, engaging every human and material support to reduce the loss of lives and property unlike the previous regimes.
Sheikh Hasina said apart from all concerned government offices, the ruling Awami League workers worked sincerely to reach food, medicine and other relief materials to the affected people.
She recalled that the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) government took no step while the deadly 1991 cyclone hit the south-eastern coastlines saying “even they didn’t care to have information about the disaster”.
Sheikh Hasina said the post-independence Bangabandhu government had planned to build 1000 cyclone shelter centres called “Mujib Killa” along the southern coastlines to protect the belt from tidal surges and cyclones.
Following that footprint, she said, the present government took many steps for disaster management while it successfully faced the protracted 1998 deluge which even inundated the Dhaka city amid a prediction that the flood could kill 20 million people.
The prime minister said the government took necessary measures to avoid any possibility of food shortage and keep the sufferings of the people to a tolerant level.
The present government, she said, is raising volunteers for post earthquake rescue operation and disaster management.
Sheikh Hasina said flood affects people including farmers damaging households and crops and reminded all that it also benefits the yields carrying silt and other ingredients to make the cultivable land more fertile.
The premier asked the people to be cautious in using modern equipment such as electricity, gas cylinder and flammable substances to minimise the risk caused by the modernisation, saying, “modernisation gives us comfort, but it also creates risks. We should be careful to keep the risk at the minimum level”.
She asked the people to remain careful and prepared in their offices and houses to face any disasters.
Referring to the 1991 cyclone during the BNP-Jamaat regime, she said, “The then government was not aware about the disaster for which thousands of people were killed”.
She also said her government had successfully tackled the 1997 cyclone, recalling that she cancelled her Spain tour soon after the cyclone hit Bangladesh.
The PM asked the National Disaster Management Council to make it’s preparation time-befitting to fix do’s and dont’s to face the disasters in the coming days.