The government will enact a meteorological law that it says will improve weather forecast and research capabilities across the country’s weather enterprises.
The draft Meteorological Act 2017, which is going to provide legal support to local weather research and forecasting innovations, was prepared by the Defense Ministry. It is scheduled to be placed in a cabinet meeting tomorrow.
An official of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) said: “Since our independence, we have not had a law to guide the operations of the BMD.”
The new legislation authorises the BMD to prioritise research to improve weather data, modeling, computing, forecasting and warnings, to better protect lives and property, the official said.
According to a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics report from 2015, Bangladesh lost Tk18,425 crore (about $2.33 billion) to natural disasters between 2009 and 2014. The report said natural disasters in those six years primarily claimed crops worth Tk6,670 crore, or 36.2% of the total loss. River erosion was second on the list, with a loss of Tk4,923 crore, while damage of houses caused a loss of Tk3,168 crore.
Lawmaker and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Defense Ministry Maj Gen (retired) Mohammad Shubid Ali Bhuiyan said: “When a major storm, tornado, tsunami or landslide is approaching your community, every additional minute of preparation time counts.”
“This legislation will strengthen our country’s commitment to forecasting severe weather and ensure that the BMD has access to the best weather data,” he said.
According to the draft act, it is a major step toward more accurate and timely weather predication by the directorate.
The draft law says it will be completely separate from the Environment Conservation Act 1995, Bangladesh Water Act 2013, Disaster Management Act 2012 and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Control Act 2012.
Bangladesh does not have any satellite of its own. Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation (Sparso), a government agency under the Defence Ministry, provides storm predictions and early warnings using feeds from NASA and NOAA’s satellites. But under this law, the government will prepare its own satellite to get information about storm predictions.
The efficiency and capability of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department will be enhanced to the protect the country through early warnings as the country is now affected by climate change, sea level rise and rising average temperature, the draft proposal says.
Under this law, the accountability and transparency of a total of 1,305 staff and officials of the BMD headquarters in Dhaka along with 60 observation offices across the country will be ensured.
Definition of a meteorologist is going to be incorporated into the new law, according to the draft.
The work of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department includes the observation of incidents in the biosphere and warning for earthquakes for specific areas.
The BMD is also responsible for warning people against storms and informing the civil aviation authority to ensure the safety of aircraft routes, the draft law says. Tsunami is also incorporated in the draft meteorological law 2017.
Due to Bangladesh’s unique geographic location, it has suffered devastating tropical cyclones frequently. The funnel-shaped northern portion of the Bay of Bengal amplifies the storm surge of land-falling tropical cyclones, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The 1970 Bhola cyclone alone claimed around 500,000 lives, making it the deadliest tropical cyclone on record.
In 1997, an earthquake in Chittagong, commonly known as the Bandarban earthquake, occurred in November in the Bangladesh-India -Myanmar border region. At least 23 people were killed in Chittagong when a five-story building collapsed.