CA asks agencies to brace for Nargis
Thursday, 01 May 2008

Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed Wednesday asked related agencies to take preparation and remain alert against cyclone Nargis, feared to intensify further, reports bdnews24.com.

The directive came from a cabinet meeting at the Chief Adviser's Office after defence secretary Kamrul Hasan briefed advisers on the Bay cyclone in detail, CA's press secretary Syed Fahim Munaim told reporters.

According to the latest weather bulletin, the severe cyclonic storm over the west central Bay and adjoining east central Bay has moved slightly north-northeastwards over the same area.

The cyclone was centred at 6pm about 1000km southwest of Chittagong port, 935km southwest of Cox's Bazar port and 875km south-southwest of Mongla port.

The chief adviser asked the Disaster Management Bureau and other related government agencies to watch the storm. He also asked deputy commissioners of districts to take cautionary steps, Munaim said after the cabinet meeting. The government had earlier asked farmers to speed up their rice harvest as the country braces for the powerful cyclone.

Cyclone Sidr killed nearly 3,500 people last November. It destroyed 1.8 million tonnes of rice in the fields and left around two million people homeless. The storm was the most powerful to hit Bangladesh since an April cyclone killed 143,000 people in April 1991.

Officials expect that boro, a major rice variety, will yield around 17.5 million tonnes this year, two million tonnes more than last year. If the harvest was completed without any losses, officials and economists hope food prices in markets, which nearly doubled over the past year, would start coming down.

But Nargis is posing a new threat. Farmers began harvesting boro about a week ago but the officials said it would take another fortnight to complete. British-based storm tracking service Tropical Storm Risk (http://tsr.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/) rated Nargis as a category 2 storm and it was expected to reach category 4 strength in 36 hours.

Category 5 is the maximum category for tropical cyclones. The Meteorological Department of Bangladesh issued a distant cautionary signal number 2 for Chittagong and other ports.

OTHER CABINET DECISIONS

After Wednesday's meeting, the CA's press secretary said the cabinet also gave a go-ahead to signing a memorandum of understanding on Oman-Bangladesh manpower exports.

A delegation led by foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury would go to Oman on May 10. The MoU is likely to be signed during the visit, Munaim said. From 1976 to 1997, about 2,65,000 Bangladeshi workers went to Oman.

At present, 1,75,000 Bangladeshis are working in the Middle Eastern country. The cabinet at Wednesday's meeting approved the Government Attorney General Service Ordinance 2008 and Contempt of Court Ordinance 2008.

Munaim said the council of advisers gave final approval to amendments to Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Act 1980.

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