POST TIME: 11 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Country prepared to face disasters, says minister

Country prepared to face disasters, says minister

The country can now forecast floods and cyclones five days in advance, disaster management and relief minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said yesterday.

“The country has to face natural disasters 10 months a year. But we have so far been able to face all natural disasters successfully, thanks to our knowledgeable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” the minister said while inaugurating the National Disaster Preparedness Day 2018 at Dhaka’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium.

Terming the Rohingya crisis a “great disaster” as well, the minister said Bangladesh faced six disasters last year, including the Rohingya crisis.

He said Bangladesh can now forecast cyclones and floods five days before these can strike. “We now send cautionary SMSs to the people who work in the deep sea so that they can take shelter in safe places before the disaster strikes. The government has also arranged vessels to rescue them during rough weather,” Maya added.

“Trained volunteers are needed to work during natural disasters, both in urban and coastal areas. A total of 55,000 volunteers have already been trained for coastal areas and 32,000 for urban areas,” said Maya.

“Normally, Bangladesh faces river floods, tidal surges, flash floods, cyclones, and lightning strikes,” he added. Around 3.8 lakh farmers and fishermen were affected last year in the ‘haor’ (wetland) areas due to flash floods caused by heavy rainfall, the minister said.

He informed the audience that the disaster and relief ministry has allocated Tk. 228 crore and 1.36 lakh tonnes of rice for the affected people, in keeping with the Prime Minister’s commitment. Besides, 30 lakh blankets and 98,000 food packets have been distributed among the people to protect them from the cold, he added.

Also, the fire services department has now got improved equipment, he said. Firemen can rescue people even from 24-storied buildings, he added.

Among others, the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on disaster management and relief, Syed Abul Hossain Babla, its secretary Md Shah Kamal, the director general of the Armed Forces Division, Brig. Gen. Ejajul Bari, the director general of the disaster management department, Riaz Ahmed, the director general of fire services and civil defence, Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmad Khan, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society secretary general Firoz Salahuddin, and Cyclone Preparedness Programme director Ahmedul Huq also spoke on the occasion.