Man-made water-logging

Dhaka,  Tue,  19 September 2017
Published : 14 Jun 2017, 21:06:19

Man-made water-logging

The perennial problem of water-logging in both the capital and the port city has returned with early rains this year. Rains induced by depressions in the Bay of Bengal within weeks were not heavy in Dhaka but they were so in Chittagong. Yet their impacts were telling in some parts of Chittagong and Dhaka cities. However, no one could imagine how disastrous they could be for the hilly districts. Landslides triggered by stormy rains have taken a toll of 130 or so lives in Chittagong, Rangamati and Bandarban. If this is an indication of what is to be expected of the full monsoon, inhabitants of both cities and hill tracts should stay alarmed at the prospect. In the capital's Shantinagar and Malibagh area where construction of a flyover has been going on for years, the road there has endured the heaviest pounding and the already critical condition of it has further worsened. Even the concrete pipes laid recently to drain out accumulated water appear to have been successful in doing exactly the opposite. In Agrabad area of the port city, Chaktai khal (canal) has proved to be a bane for people living in the area ever since it was choked as a result of encroachment. 

Water-logging in both cities persists now because the natural system of drainage was unduly manipulated through human interference. The network of canals in Dhaka was once enough to dispose of the excess rain water during the monsoon. Due to filling up of the low-lying water bodies and shrinkage of the rivers, including the Buriganga, all around Dhaka, the water disposal capacity has come to the minimum. Evidently, the storm sewerage system could not be a viable replacement for the canals. Now, yet another effort is underway to construct a drainage system right under the footpath of different areas all across the city. This looks good but where will the release points meet or end will decide how well they serve the purpose. There is no reason to be highly optimistic, though. 

In the port city, there is similarity with the developments in Dhaka so far as encroachment of canals and the river Karnafuli is concerned. But then the similarity ends there. The Karnafuli is heavily silted because of soil erosion, a direct effect from hill cutting. Illegal hill cutting for earth also prompts landslides causing death to many poor people who build their shanties at the foothill for living. This is yet another type of human intervention in the natural process of rain water disposal. Clearly, tampering with contours of hills and plains also exacts a price on those responsible. Man is the villain here. 

No wonder, the incumbent mayor of Chittagong once expressed his helplessness in addressing the water-logging problem in the port city. He, however, made it clear that an enormous sum of allocation for the purpose is needed if a permanent solution is to be sought. What plans he has up his sleeves were, however, not disclosed. How the two mayors of Dhaka want to take on water-logging has not also been revealed. But one thing is clear that the issue has to be addressed under a comprehensive plan or project. No patchwork will do. The Detailed Area Plan (DAP) in its original shape -not the concocted one furnished later on, may be a guide to such a task. If needed, structures built or land developed to infringe upon the original water disposal courses should be removed in order to reclaim the drainage channels.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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