Some new areas in Chattogram city are being flooded now. Why is this?

Like Dhaka, the population in Chattogram city is increasing. Here natural reservoirs are being filled and buildings are being constructed on the landfills. While approving the design of a building, less importance is given to the sites of canals and their sizes.

Apart from this, canals have been narrowed and water flow is being constricted. This is held responsible for submerging all high and low-lying areas.

Water that submerges Chattogram city used to recede within eight to 10 hours in the past. But now some areas are being trapped in water for several days. Why has such a situation emerged?

Chattogram is a hill area. Sand and soil from the hills are washed away to the drains and canals while raining. Besides, houses and shops are being constructed, occupying the drains and canals. Waste is also being dumped there regularly. Due all this, canals and drains are being filled up. Since the path of water flow is clogged, waterlogging is taking a permanent shape in the city.

Four projects of Tk 110 billion in resolving the problem of waterlogging have been implemented in Chattogram city for the last four years. Even then, why has the suffering of waterlogging not alleviated?

An idea about the problem can got from the development project of Chaktai canal.

Chaktai canal can be called the ‘sorrow of Chattogram’ now. Through this development project, the authorities have only widened the drains slightly beside the road in a bid to increase the capacity of holding water. Maintenance that the Chaktai canal needs to remove surplus water is not being done. For instance, the bed of this canal filled with garbage, mud and sand needs to be cleaned to increase the capacity of holding water. But it hasn’t been done.

Apart from this, walls beside the canal are being raised without considering the level of water in the drain. As a result, the process of flowing water from drain to canal is being barred. Rather, the canal’s water is flowing into the drain, which is the reason why the surrounding areas of drain are being flooded. In many areas, drains have been clogged due to the dumping of garbage that causes more time to recede water from the canal than normal.

This time, some areas in Chattogram city have been waterlogged for six to seven days. Why has such a dire state been created?

There are several reasons for this waterlogging problem reaching such a devastating state in Chattogram city. There is more interest in formulating different projects and their implementation haphazardly than in the implementation of drainage master plan.

Before finalising the plan, the authorities do not hold public hearings over project location, environment, economic-technical feasibility and side effects. Unplanned projects have been taken up and approved too to ease waterlogging.

In spite of being highly dependent on the canal for removal of surplus water, the authorities do not take any initiatives to clean the canals. Importance is not being given to the sites and sizes of drains and canals that are filled up due to flawed maintenance and illegal occupation. Beyond these, there is a lack of awareness among the people.

Is there no way to overcome from this terrible state?

There are definitely some ways to overcome this. The technical and implementation aspects need to be improved. Illegal infrastructure on drains and canals will have to be evicted. There are no alternatives but digging and maintenance of the drains and canals. With increasing the water-holding capacity, connections will have to be made among the canals.

A type of trap can be used to reduce the garbage in the drains and canals. The authorities will have to formulate planned drainage system for Chattogram city and implement it. Regular monitoring of these works is needed. If necessary, assistance can be taken from CUET. If we march forward in such way, it is possible to overcome this acute problem.

*This interview appeared on the online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by NH Sajjad

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