Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday ordered a continued review of preparedness measures for facing disasters alongside the launching of a nationwide awareness campaign attributing repeated incidents of fire lack of wakefulness. “Review continuously the government initiatives for success-fully handling the natural disasters and fix what should be done,” she said as she chaired a NationalDisaster Management Council(NDMC) meeting at the PMO, reports BSS. Simultaneously, she said, a nation-wide awareness campaign has to be launched alongside taking timely measures to minimize damage from the disasters. “Creating awareness among the people is necessary . . . alongside taking timely measures from the national, organizational and personal level to minimize disaster damages,” she said.
The premier herself heads the DMC 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 publicize 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 minimize people’s sufferings during floods and all other natural disasters asking all to keep in mind that geophysical 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 infernos while referring to the recent FR Tower andChurihatta blazes in the capital claiming many lives. She said her government, however, always responded very fast whenever it received a 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 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 1000cyclone shelter centers called “MujibKilla” 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 the protracted 1998deluge 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-earth-quake rescue operations 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, a gas cylinder, and flammable substances to minimize the risk caused by the modernization, saying, “modernization 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 of the disaster for which thousands of people were killed”.
She also said her government had successfully tackled the 1997cyclone, recalling that she canceled her Spain tour soon after the cyclone hit Bangladesh.