Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government had made all necessary preparations to face cyclone Amphan.
"We are taking all possible measures that we should adopt to protect the lives and properties of the people from the cyclone," she said.
The premier expressed satisfaction at the overall preparations to face the cyclone and thanked all concerned, including the disaster management and relief ministry, armed forces, police and local people involved in the process.
Sheikh Hasina also mentioned that her government, unlike previous regimes, had always responded fast through engaging every human and material support to reduce the loss of lives and property whenever it had received any forecast of disasters.
The premier was addressing a meeting of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) formed to review preparations to tackle a possible assault by cyclone Amphan. She joined the meeting from her official Ganabhaban residence through videoconferencing.
The prime minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed media after the meeting.
Mentioning that the super cyclone was going to hit Bangladesh at a time when the government was trying its best to face the situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the prime minister also sought blessings from Almighty Allah so that the lives and properties of the people are not affected by the cyclone. She argued that it is a natural calamity and that people have no hand in its making.
The prime minister said the people of Bangladesh would always have to be ready to face various natural disasters due to the country's geographical location.
At the same time, she pointed to her government's various successes in disaster management. The government had achieved great successes in reducing risks and loss of lives and properties during a number of disasters like cyclones, which had earned international acclaim for it, she said.
Sheikh Hasina recalled the deadly cyclone in 1991 that devastated the south-eastern coastlines, and said the then BNP government took no step to face the disaster. "They didn't even care about disseminating information about the disaster due to which thousands of people were killed and planes of the air force, ships of the navy and other public properties got damaged."
Before the government did anything to mitigate the sufferings of the cyclone-hit people at the time, leaders and activists of the then opposition Awami League had reached out to the cyclone-affected people, going to the remotest areas by fishing boats to provide them with relief materials, she claimed.
She went on to say that her government, after assuming office in 1996, undertook special programmes and formulated a policy to let people know what they needed to do if any disaster struck.
"After coming to power in 1996, we found that the Bangladesh Meteorological Department had been running without any modern equipment. So, we started to take various measures to make it well-equipped with advanced equipment," she said.
The premier said disaster-related advance information is now being collected through satellite while agreements have been signed internationally to take prompt measures to disseminate information to the grassroots level for people to get prepared in advance to face any disaster.
PM Sheikh Hasina, who is also president of the Awami League, said apart from the government offices concerned, activists of the ruling party also worked sincerely to distribute food, medicines and other relief materials to the affected people during disasters.
Referring to the help extended to farmers in harvesting Boro paddy this season, she said, "It is a matter of happiness and hope that 90 percent of the Boro paddy has already been harvested (before the possible assault of cyclone Amphan)."
The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was the pioneer in devising disaster risks reduction programmes in the country, the premier said, adding that Bangabandhu had taken up various initiatives, like building 'Mujib Kellas' to protect the lives and properties of the people from devastating cyclones.
"Bangabandhu prepared 45,000 volunteers after imparting them with appropriate training with the kind cooperation of the then League of Red Cross to face any disasters," she continued.
Ministers of the ministries concerned, such as health, agriculture, local government, home, water resources, and shipping, the cabinet secretary and chiefs of the three services, joined the meeting from the secretariat through videoconferencing. Meanwhile, the state minister for disaster management and relief, and the secretary of the ministry joined it from Ganabhaban.