Relief plunderers wouldn’t be spared: PM


Dhaka, April 12: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the plunderers of relief goods meant for mitigating the hardship of the needy people arising out of the coronavirus outbreak would not be spared.“A few reports have so far surfaced regarding arrests of some people for misappropriating relief goods. I hope everyone involved in these misdeeds would be arrested. No mercy would be shown to them. If necessary, immediate punishment would be given to them through mobile courts,” she said, BSS reports.

The prime minister said this while interacting through videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban here with public representatives and officials of 16 districts under Khulna and Barishal divisions on the current coronavirus situation and mitigating the hardships arising out of the ongoing shutdown.

Divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, police supers, civil surgeons, public representatives, journalists, representatives of the armed forces, Awami League leaders, doctors, nurses and imams took part in the programme.

She said: “We are trying our best to help all, including wage earners, day labourers, small traders and the people who couldn’t seek relief due to their social dignity, by reaching foods to their doorsteps as they are passing their days in hardship as they have no works due to the shutdown in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Noting that a few incidents of relief misappropriation are hurting the nation, “This is a matter of hatred. So, I request all not to indulge themselves in such misdeeds.”

The premier asked the concerned authorities, particularly the local administration and law enforcement agencies, to take necessary steps to ensure that people follow the ‘stay-at-home’ and practice social distancing during the ongoing shutdown.

In this context, she said, “We are trying our best to contain the spread of the virus. Bangladesh is a densely populated country and it would be tough to check coronavirus spreading without support of the countrymen. All must stay at home and be alert so that the disease cannot spread further.”

She asked the local administrations to conduct massive campaigns to make the people aware to follow the health ministry’s time to time directives.

The premier asked the concerned authorities including the local administration and law enforcement agencies of the 16 districts of the two divisions, particularly the coronavirus-free districts, to ensure that no outsiders can enter into the districts, to check the spread of deadly virus.

She asked the bordering districts of the divisions to ensure compulsory home quarantine of the returnees from the neighbouring country through land ports.

About holding local markets on bigger places, she said, “Arrange markets in large and open places and ensure that when people stand in queues they maintain social distancing to check spreading of the virus.”

The premier asked all to take effective measures to ensure normalcy in the transportation of goods and crops. She also asked to take measures for ensuring transportation of agricultural workers as the season of paddy harvesting has started.

She instructed the local administration to ensure marketing and diversified use of milk, when the premier’s attention was drawn that 52000 litres of milk out of 2,78000 litres produced per day in Satkhira district remained unsold.

She also asked the district administration to take effective measures in preserving shrimp and lobster in a proper manner as those could be exported later as the world is now being rattled by the lethal virus.

The premier asked the officials of the civil administration and health ministry and department to take special initiatives for hospital waste management.

“You’ll have to keep germ-free the medical equipment used in Covid-19 treatment and give special focus on their proper disposal so that the deadly disease can not spread from the wastes,” she said.

The prime minister greeted the Christian community as the Easter Sunday is being celebrated today and called upon them not to gather in the churches together to check coronavirus spreading.

She reiterated her call to all to celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year, through digital platform staying home.

PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function while Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah were present at the Ganabhaban.

Expressing gratitude to the premier for giving them chance to interact with her through the videoconference, the participants, especially officials of the local administration and law enforcement agencies apprised the premier that they have been following the guidelines of the Prime Minister Office and the Health Ministry to contain the spread of coronavirus.

They thanked the prime minister for allocating plenty of relief materials for the needy people and giving adequate personnel protection equipments (PPEs) for the safety of the people concerned.

They informed the premier of the overall situation arising out of the coronavirus and the measures they are taking to strictly apply the ‘stay-at-home’ and social distancing guidelines and distributing foods among the destitute and the people who couldn’t stand in lines for relief after preparing their lists.

They told the premier that they have been working to ensure cent percent transparency in distributing relief materials.

The local administration also informed the premier that they have no crisis of foods, PPEs and other necessary items in their districts.

They told the prime minister that they have been keeping a tab on any kind of violation, including flouting of lockdown rules, hoarding or overcharging of essential items.

The local administrations of the 16 districts have assured the prime minister of fulfilling the government’s target of producing crops, particularly paddy.

They said that they have already taken measures to bring each piece of arable land under cultivation following the directive of the prime minister.