Encroachment has narrowed the Rupnagar canal at Shialbari area of Mirpur, Dhaka. This photo was taken on 19 June 2021
Tanvir Ahmed

Some areas under the Dhaka city’s north-western part covering Mirpur, Pallabi, Uttara and Turag are inundated during the rainy season while the Goranchatbari, a designated reservoir, faces water crisis, stakeholders have said.

As a result, the officials said, the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) cannot operate water pumps installed in the reservoir to drain out water.

Illegal encroachment and dumping of waste have narrowed the connecting canals.

Moreover, the water flow in the canals cannot be maintained as the water drains at different areas of the city are not clean.

BWDB officials say that their water pumps work when water level at the reservoir area goes up to four metres. But it has not been happen.

Although the BWDB authorities keep at least one pump operational even while the water level touches 3.5 metre-mark maximum.

According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), 1 June of the current monsoon saw 85 milimetres of rainfall in three hours, record rainfall in last couple of years. Four days later, 111mm rainfall was recorded. But the Goranchatbari water reservoir had not adequate water.

BWDB pump house’s executive engineer Shah Alam told Prothom Alo that water level at the reservoir went up only 3.5m during the period.

According Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), at least 103 localities under the DNCC witnessed water-logging on 1 and 5 June. The localities included Mirpur, Pallabi, Uttara, Turag and some other. It took eight to 10 hours for receding water.

The Goranchatbari reservoir covers 615 acres of land where BWDB has three water pump stations. Each of the stations has three irrigation pumps that individually can pump 7,333 litre water per second. The reservoir is located beside the Mirpur Beribadh road.

Water is supposed to flow through the Baunia and Dwigun canals of Mirpur, the Rupnagar canal and the Khidir canal of Uttara and Turag areas and fall into the reservoir.

Current state of the canals

BWDB officials told Prothom Alo that part of the Khidir canal–from No. 2 sluicegate to No. 10 sluicegate along the River Turag has narrowed. Because of dumping of waste, drain water can flow through one-third width of the canal at Phulbaria point. Silt has fully clogged one box culvert at Tekpara locality. Besides, drain water cannot flow freely through the canal’s last two kilometres end and the 350-metre portion at the Mirpur cantonment area due to the dumping of solid waste.

Dumping of waste has also narrowed the last 1.5 kilometres stretch of the Dwigun canal. Drain water from the Rupnagar canal flow to the Dwigun canal through only a 4 feet-diameter pipe that is set beneath the main road of the Eastern Housing.

During the rainy season, the flow of water is hampered at that particular point, resulting in water logging in Rupnagar, Eastern Housing and some areas of Pallabi. Unabated encroachment has also narrowed the Baunia canal.

DNCC officials at the waste management department say that a five-storey building has been constructed on the canal at the end of Road No. 4 of Shialbari (back side of Dhaka Commerce College). The illegal construction has narrowed the canal’s width to 37 feet, although, the land demarcation map suggests the width as 40 feet.

Commodore M Saidur Rahman, chief waste management officer, DNCC, claims that blocks in the canals and drains connecting to Goranchatbari have been cleared. “Now the waste-related problem is almost solved. However, some portions of the canals turn narrow due to encroachment. As a result, incessant raining often hampers the receding of water.”

BWDB executive engineer (civil circle) Dewan Ainul Haque told Prothom Alo that the adequate water will quickly flow to the reservoir if the connecting canals are kept free from grabbing and cleared regularly.

*This report appeared in the online and print editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman.