Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said Bangladesh would reach its desired goals, overcoming all disasters– natural and manmade.
“Bangladesh has attained a position in the world as a disaster-resilient country. We are able to face disasters…we’ll have to continue to maintain it,” she said.
The Prime Minister made the statement at a programme in the city’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium to observe the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022. She joined the event virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
She also inaugurated relief warehouses cum disaster management information centres in 25 districts, 80 flood shelters and 50 Mujib Killas, or installations built to protect the lives and property during floods.
Criticising the BNP for its irresponsibility during the 1991-cyclone, the PM urged the people of the country to be careful so that a force like the BNP cannot return to power in the future.
She said when her party had raised then BNP government’s negligence over preparedness to face the cyclone in Parliament, BNP leader Khaleda Zia had claimed that too many people did not die in that cyclone that tore through the Chattogram region.
Sheikh Hasina said BNP had shown their irresponsibility by making such remarks.
The BNP came to power and Khaleda Zia became the country’s Prime Minister through an election after the fall of HM Ershad in late 1990.
An estimated 140,000 people were killed by the April cyclone in 1991 while some 10 million people had lost their homes, and the cost of overall property damage was estimated in the billions of dollars as experts say it was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones ever recorded.
Focusing the government’s successes and measures over disaster management, she said none can undermine the Bengali nation anymore.
“Not only natural disasters, Bangladesh also faces manmade disasters like arson,” she said referring to the political violence blamed on the opposition BNP and its allies ahead of the 2014 national election.
She said nothing can stop the country to reach its target.
“We’ll reach our desired goals facing all sorts of disasters –either natural ones or manmade ones,” she added.
The Prime Minister said her government designed the Delta Plan 2100 and started working on its implementation.
She said her administration always remained careful about disaster management while designing any plan. “During the construction of roads, bridges and schools, we keep our eyes on to ensure that the mechanism for channeling rainwater or floodwater is included,” she added.
She said the government was restoring the canals, beels and other water bodies as well as dredging the rivers to maintain flow of water. “We’re taking proper measures to prevent river erosion and working on it,” she said.
The government also framed the National Plan for Disaster Management (2021-2025) for disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and development of recovery management, she added.
The PM said her government constructed a total of 4,200 cyclone shelter centres, 423 flood shelter centres, and 66 relief godowns cum disaster management information centres across the country.
Besides, the government is constructing fire service stations in every upazila, arranging modern equipment and training for the firefighters, she noted.
About climate change, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh doesn’t emit much carbon, which is responsible for climate change, but the country is one of the worst victims.
She said the developed world makes many commitments to provide climate fund to the most vulnerable countries. But it is unfortunate that the vulnerable countries hardly receive any money as promised by them, she added.
“Actually, we have to make our own arrangement,” the PM said, putting emphasis on expanding green areas in the coastal regions to protect the country from the adverse impacts of climate change.
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 was observed with the theme of “Early warning for disasters, actions for all” in the country.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman MP presided over the function while Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Md Kamrul Hasan delivered the welcome speech.
In the function, two best volunteers – Joyshree Rani Das of Ramgati Upazila under Laxmipur and Md Jashim Uddin of Lalmohon under Bhola– were awarded under the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP).
On behalf of the premier, Dr Enamur Rahman handed over the awards to them.
The Prime Minister, however, asked the authorities concerned to increase the number of awardees in the future.
This year the International Day is being observed across the world focusing on Target G of the Sendai Framework: “Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.”