According to the report published in Prothom Alo, buildings occupy 55.90 per cent of Khatunganj while canals, drains and reservoirs occupy only 7.80 per cent of the area. Rainfall of 200mm or more a day increases the water level by 4.1 metre in Chaktai and other nearby canals, leading to the main roads being inundated by 1 metre of water. Due to this situation, 50 per cent of the businesses have been relocated.
The study made 17 recommendations to resolve the problem. These include dredging Chaktai canal, introducing a multi-modal transport system and increasing reservoirs and greenery. The mayor of Chattogram City Corporation Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said, “We are responsible for this financial loss in Khatunganj. Traders and influential people have encroached upon Chaktai canal hampering the water flow.” In the past, his predecessors also expressed similar concern, but couldn’t take action against the grabbers.
Three agencies -- Chattogram City Corporation, Chattogram Development Authority and Chittagong Port Authority -- are responsible for overseeing Khatunganj. These three authorities have no coordination in in their work. They take up projects at their will and fail to resolve the problems.
Researchers recommended reservoirs and U map models to resolve waterlogging, but this requires recovering Chaktai canal from encroachment. Currently, buildings occupy 56 per cent of the area and implementing any plan will not be possible with these structures intact. If necessary, multi-storey buildings can be built after sparing land for the canal. We join in with the mayor to say that it is high time to recover Chaktai canal.
Once the river Hwang Ho was called the sorrow of China as it flooded houses and washed away crops over vast areas every year. The Chinese have turned Hwang Ho into a source of prosperity by controlling floods. Whether the sufferings of traders in Khatunganj will be assuaged, depends on the effective and sustainable measures on resolving the waterlogging.