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Earlier last year, the engineering department of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), after a survey, identified 39 spots prone to waterlogging. Later, DSCC included 14 other spots in the list and took initiative to reduce waterlogging at 53 spots.

At the time, DSCC engineers also noted that inadequate drainage facilities as well as clogged drainage networks were the main reasons behind waterlogging around the south part of Dhaka city.

Sources at DNCC engineering department said that the corporation has been trying to identify the reasons behind waterlogging at 103 spots in their constituency.

They said short-term solutions are being applied to address waterlogging at the spots where immediate steps can work. DNCC authorities are doing what is necessary where there are requirements for waste management, widening of narrow drains or negotiation with development project implementers.

Some spots prone to waterlogging would require long-term as well as costly solutions. DNCC will take separate projects there.

DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam told Prothom Alo that waterlogging is affecting new areas every year. However, DNCC is focusing on six hotspots to solve the problem.

DNCC is working on a plan to reduce the problem by 2023 so that monsoon runoff will recede within one hour of downpours, he said.

DSCC has been implementing two projects worth Tk 1.39 billion (139 crore) to reduce waterlogging at 53 spots. Under the projects, the corporation is repairing sewerage networks in 25 areas. Besides, construction of drainage systems and footpaths is on. Every DSCC ward councilor has been allocated Tk 10 million (one crore) to repair the drainage system and footpaths at their constituencies.

DSCC chief executive officer Farid Ahmed told Prothom Alo that attempts are being made to complete the ongoing works at the 53 spots within the next 20 days. The problem of waterlogging would be minimised when the work is completed.

He said that the existing runoff retention capacity in DSCC is one-third of the requirement. The capacity needs to be enhanced, he said.

On 31 December last year, responsibility of Dhaka-based canals and drainage systems was officially handed over to the two city corporation to manage waterlogging. Since then, the corporations have been cleaning the canals and box-culverts.

However, urban experts and city corporation officials observe that waterlogging can not be solved only with cleaning the canals as draining runoff down to the rivers crosses several other steps.

Long-term approach is a must to solve waterlogging, they maintain.

General secretary of the Bangladesh Institute of Planners Adil Mohammed Khan told Prothom Alo said that the city corporations had earlier been responsible to reduce waterlogging. Maintaining canals is only an additional duty.

The two city corporations have long failed to redress citizen’s grievances over waterlogging. Project-based solutions alone will not work. A holistic plan of action covering the whole waterlogging network and other related matters is crucial, Adil said.

DNCC and DSCC took charge of 26 canals which were previously maintained by Dhaka WASA. Apart from these, there are 17 other canals maintained by the housing and public works ministry, RAJUK and Bangladesh Water Development Board.

Recently, the government has decided to hand responsibility of the 17 canals over to the two city corporations.

Sources at the local government division said a working committee has been formed with the division’s senior secretary Helaluddin Ahmed as its convener and representatives from all the related departments and wings. The handover process will be completed as per the committee report.

The two city corporations have been implementing a number of short-and-mid-term projects after they got ownership of the Dhaka canals. The canals are being cleared of waste as a short-term measure. Now the canals would be demarcated and fenced off by barbed wires.

Along with this, DSCC has submitted a long-term project proposal to the local government division.

Sources at DSCC said the approximately Tk 9.81 billion (981 crore) would be required to implement the project for restoring and beautification of the Kalunagar, Jirani, Manda and Shyampur canals to reduce waterlogging in Dhaka city.

Under the project, walkways, bicycle lanes, fishing sheds, flower gardens, foot over-bridges and public toilets will be constructed after restoration of the canals.

DNCC too is planning long-term solutions to waterlogging. As per the plan, canals would be restored after freeing them from encroachment, and be navigable after removing thick silt deposits from the beds. Recreational spaces with walkways, bicycle lanes and gardens will be made on the banks.

Jahangirnagar University teacher of urban and regional planning Professor Akter Mahmud told Prothom Alo that project planning and implementation follow a long-term process.

This is positive, albeit delayed, that the city corporations have identified the waterlogging-prone spots. Reducing waterlogging at the spots do not require long-term project. The authorities concerned must check mismanagement in waste dumping. People need to be engaged in the campaign so that they do not dump waste into the canals, Akter said.

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

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