The city of temporary rivers

Dhaka,  Sat,  23 September 2017
Published : 13 Jul 2017, 19:50:17
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Opinion

The city of temporary rivers

If the relevant agencies and city residents mean business, it is not impossible to solve the problem of water-logging in Dhaka city, at least partially, writes Shamsul Huq Zahid
"This river is not the Padma but the Dhanmondi River, a temporary river of Bangladesh. It is as a seasonal river. It emerges during monsoon and vanishes at the onset of dry season", said a Bangla daily quoting a write-up posted by a student of Dhanmondi Government Boys School last Wednesday. 

In fact, even a moderate spell of rain gives birth to numerous temporary rivers like the one at Dhanmondi across the city, making movement of city dwellers through city streets, lanes and bye-lanes almost impossible. In some areas boats, instead of vehicles, are seen plying the streets.  

While the people are suffering during this peak monsoon, the chief executive of the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) under no circumstances is ready to define the problem as 'water-logging'. He would prefer to call it 'water jam'. May be his definition is the right one, but that does not anyway help the situation. The city residents are suffering due to the problem of 'water-logging' or 'water jam', whatever one may prefer to call it.  

It is not the DWASA managing director alone, the Dhaka North City Mayor, Annisul Huq, is also not ready to call the problem as 'water-logging'. He too prefers to call it 'water jam'. 

The DNCC mayor links the ongoing water-logging or water jam problem to the chocked-up canals of Dhaka city. He blames the DWASA for gradual death of the canals. Mr. Annis reportedly told a section of the media that some people had filled up canals, owned by the Dhaka district administration, and constructed buildings without facing resistance from any quarters. It is not just canals, large water bodies that were the final destination of these canals have also been filled up either fully or partially. Neither Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakha RAJUK) nor the DWASA pays any attention to it. 

However, the DWASA managing director claims about the existence of 26 canals out of more than 60 canals in Dhaka city. A total of 13 canals, according to him, have been developed and the remaining 13 are now in the process of being developed. 

While the top bosses of two major utility services of Dhaka city have been making claims and counter-claims about the existence of canals, people remain stranded in their houses and elsewhere because of the inundated roads, lanes and bye-lanes. 

However, the DNCC mayor appears to be more specific about ways of ridding the city of water-logging problem. He wants the recovery of the canals at any cost. If required, all structures, including pucca ones would have to be dismantled, he said.  Many tend to believe that that is almost an impossible proposition since the grabbers of canals, having political connections, are locally influential people. Resistance would come from all possible directions. 

A roadmap, reportedly, is now under preparation with the objective of ridding the city of water-logging problem. The roadmap should include provision of digging new canals or wider drains to drain out rain water. 

The problem with DWASA is that it is not cleaning or maintaining even the remnants of original canals. Had it done so, the problem of water-logging would not have been so acute. It is also necessary on the part of two city corporations to keep the surface drains clean throughout the year. Such cleaning is necessary since most streets and roads of Dhaka always remain covered with sands and mud. In case of rain, those flow into the drains and choke them up. 

If the relevant agencies and city residents mean business, it is not impossible to solve the problem of water-logging in Dhaka city, at least, partially.  

zahidmar10@gmail.com



 
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