Disasters should be tackled considering improved living standards of haor people: Mannan

Planning Minister MA Mannan today said that necessary plans for tackling all kinds of natural disasters like flood should have to be taken considering improved living standards of haor people.

“It (flood) will happen, and we’ll have to face it. But, that doesn’t mean that we’ll have to stop development works. Because, we’ll also have to ensure better living standards of those people,” he said.

The Planning Minister said this while addressing a roundtable discussion titled “Recurrent flooding in Sylhet region: causes, rehabilitation and permanent solution” held at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital this afternoon.

Mentioning that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already directed the LGRD Minister regarding development works, Mannan said that after the distribution of relief materials, there will be necessary construction works while the government taking alongside the common people has been facing the flood situation unitedly.

Citing the huge extent of damages in the flood in the haor region including that of infrastructures and economic loss, he said it is quite unsure when the “mobility”, created earlier in the haor region, would be restored again.

Mentioning that relief materials are being distributed in the agriculture sector, the Minister said special support would be provided to the affected farmers including fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides. “Such support will be provided among the farmers in fastest possible time,”

He also informed that proposals would be put forwarded to the concerned authority for allocation of necessary funds so that house floors of the poor people could be made of concrete or to provide at least four concrete pillars.

Presided over by Sylhet Division Journalist Association, Dhaka President Azizul Parvez, the meeting was addressed, among others, by Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Shahab Uddin, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed and Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim as special guests.

Padma Bridge Project expert panelist, Emeritus Prof and former VC of Stamford University Dr M Firoz Ahmed, Bangladesh Environment Journalist Forum President Qumrul Islam Chowdhury, BELA chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Dhaka University Prof Dr Kazi Matin Uddin Ahmed, BAPA general secretary

Sharif Jamal, Institute of Planning and Development Director M Ariful Islam and River and Delta Research Center Chairman Mohammad Ejaj spoke as panelists.

Editor of Protidiner Bangladesh Mustafiz Shafi highlighted his experiences in relief distribution while roundtable discussion organizing sub-committee convenor Ehsanul Haque Jashim presented a concept paper.

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Shahab Uddin said that all the rivers of Sylhet region including Surma, Kushiara alongside the canals and haors should have to be dredged to save the haor people from flood. “As a result, the water retention capacity of those water bodies will increase and thus the haor people will be benefitted.”

Noting that the own capacity of the government should have to be enhanced to tackle natural disasters instead of relying on foreign assistance, Shahab said that the encroached canals, haors, beels, rivers, water bodies and forests should have to be recovered and protected.

Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed said that the canals could be excavated through sponsorship while there are many expatriates in the Sylhet region who could volunteer in such noble endeavor.

Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim said that the role of the joint river commission is very vital in this regard since most ofthe rivers in Bangladesh are derived from the neighboring countries and thus have merged into the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh.

He informed that efforts are on so that at least one more meeting of the joint river commission could be held during the tenure of the present government.

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