Ayub Ali, Chittagong: The government is implementing four major projects to solve Chittagong’s waterlogging. The government is spending Tk 10,803 crores on these projects which have been started since 2014.
Although big projects have been taken, the authorities are not able to remove the water problems of the residents of the port city. On the contrary, suffering is increasing day by day. Those concerned are blaming the lack of coordination as the reason. They say that Chittagong Development Authority (Chowk), Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) and Water Development Board (WDB) are implementing different projects to solve waterlogging. Although the objective is the same, there is no coordination between these three organizations implementing the project. One organization is openly blaming the other and doing whatever it takes.
Meanwhile, the water flow is stopped due to not cleaning the city’s drains regularly. Piles of dirt and polythene have accumulated in many drains. There is also a conflict between CCC and CDA over who is responsible for cleaning the drains.
The city corporation says that cleaning the drains is their regular work, but at present they are under the CDA scheme. Since they (CDA) are implementing the project here, they are also responsible for cleaning the drains. It is also alleged that drain cleaning is not a routine work of CDA and they do not give due importance to it. In total, for 9 years, about Tk 11,000 crores of work is going on, but in reality, the city dwellers are not getting any benefit.
The local government minister came to Chittagong 2 years ago to check the progress of various projects and check whether there are any defects. Tajul Islam In June 2021, he visited various projects under implementation. At that time, he held a meeting with city government officials and representatives of various service organizations. He then formed a monitoring committee with the Divisional Commissioner as the head and the City Mayor and Zilla Parishad Chairman as advisors. The committee is supposed to review the activities and progress of the project and report every month. But at present there is no activity of that committee. The district administration could not provide any specific information about whether the committee had given any report from the beginning.
Meanwhile, this year, the rainy season started a month ago, but there was not much rain in the beginning. It rained heavily for a couple of days. At that time there was flooding in the lower part of the city. It has been raining continuously since last Thursday (August 3). In these few days, the lower parts of the city have sunk several times. In some places the water rose up to the knees and in some places up to the waist. People who go out for their daily needs have to suffer severely.
Due to few days of rain, water entered the ground floor of many houses. On Thursday, various shops in Khatunganj and Chaktai, the largest wholesale market, also flooded. In addition to spoiling the goods on the floor of the shops, sales were also stopped. Apart from this, water also rose in Riaz Uddin Bazar, one of the business hubs of the city on Saturday. Traders are suffering losses due to repeated rising of water due to rotting of products.
Riyaz Uddin Bazar businessman. Mohiuddin told Daily Industry that when it rains, various areas from the head of the three pools to the bazaar sink. Every time there has been heavy rain, water has entered the shop. Many of our products were damaged.
Private bank officer. Ehsanul Haque told Daily Industry that the roads in different areas of the city are sinking when it rains. To go from home to work, one has to fall under the influence of flooding somewhere. I heard that thousands of crores of projects are going on, but nothing is visible in reality and we are not getting any benefit.
CDA Chief Engineer Hasan Bin Shams told Daily Industry that 70 percent of the work of one of the two major projects to alleviate waterlogging and 56 percent of the other has been completed. The area where the flooding is happening is the lowlands. The water of a large area including Lalkhanbazar, GEC Mor, Gate No. 2, Sholshahar, MuradpurBahaddarhat, Pravartak Mor, Chawkbazar and Baklia falls into the Karnaphuli river through the Chaktai Canal. As this one canal is not sufficient for drainage, another canal is being dug from Baraipara to Karnaphuli in the master plan. which is being excavated by the City Corporation. It is not finished yet. It will take another one and a half to two years to complete the work.
Hasan bin Shams said, 21 canals have been dug under our project, remaining 12 canals are yet to be dug. Their land was not acquired. Because at the time of taking up the project, one and a half times the mouza price was to be paid, now it has tripled. A new proposal for the project was given more than one and a half years ago but it has not been approved yet. Because of this, the work has stopped. For example, a Hijra Canal is being built to take water from Pravartak Mor to Chaktai Canal, it has been made 3 km. It was not possible to complete the remaining 3 km for land acquisition. Due to this, the water in that area is not able to go down. After receiving the land acquisition money, it may take another two years to complete the work.
The CDA engineer said that sluice gates should be installed at the mouth of 17 canals. 5 of these have been installed. Among them, it has been planted in Agrabad area, but now there is no flooding in that area. The rest of the sluice gates are structured. But the equipment did not arrive. These may take another two years to complete. Finally, another problem is waste management. Only 20 percent of the waste generated in the city goes to dumping stations. The rest of the waste falls into drains or canals. Chaktai Canal is three quarters filled with dirt. Due to this, the water is not able to drain properly through it. For this the city corporation has to recycle the waste.
Muhammad Rashidul Hasan, Professor and Chairman of City and Regional Planning Department of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, told Daily Industry that Chittagong has certain natural features consisting of mountains, canals, rivers and seas. Here the sand is washed from the hill and falls into the drain. In this context, a separate masterplan for drainage and waterlogging was prepared in 1995. Unfortunately, we have destroyed the natural reservoirs, canals, rivers and ponds in Chittagong. We get its extreme response from nature. In this case, the government has given a lot of thought and allocated a huge amount of money. But I see a lot of incoordination among the project implementing agencies. Besides, when various natural reservoirs that have been abandoned are being rescued, various complications related to the case are coming to the fore.
He said that it was the responsibility of the city corporation to keep the canals which are now being restored through CDA clean. But they don’t want to take this responsibility. There is a bureaucratic complication here. Another thing, we citizens are also not aware. The water flow in the drains has stopped due to littering everywhere. Besides, there is lack of coordination of the organization with the Water Development Board and the Port Authority in the final implementation of the projects undertaken through CDA. As a result, we are not getting the full benefit of the work done. To get rid of waterlogging we have to go for restoration of all canals under CSRS design. According to the master plan of Chittagong city, all the ponds should be restored. Besides, the rescued rivers and canals should be kept clean regularly and people should also stop littering everywhere.
CCC Mayor Md. Rezaul Karim while talking to reporters yesterday about waterlogging in the city said that the CDA is working on the flood control project. The city corporation has no hand in it. People are just abusing the city corporation. I have repeatedly told the CDA, you should work in coordination with the ward councillors. But have they ever called a councilor? CDA is working in their own way. So here we have no engagement.
CDA is implementing the two biggest projects to deal with waterlogging in the city. Among these, a project titled ‘Chittagong City Water Reclamation, Extension, Renovation and Development Project’ started in July 2017. The cost is estimated at Tk 5 thousand 616 crores 49 lakh 90 thousand. The project was scheduled to be completed by June 2020. Later the time was extended till June 2023. Now the proposal to increase the cost and time has been submitted to the Planning Commission.
Apart from this, CDA is implementing another project called ‘road construction from Kalurghat Bridge to Chaktai Canal along the banks of Karnaphuli River’. The project, which started in June 2017 at a cost of Tk 2,310 crore, is expected to be completed by June 2024.
The city corporation is implementing a new canal digging project from BahaddarhatBaraipara to Karnaphuli to solve the waterlogging of the city. In 2014, the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved this project at a cost of Tk 1,25.61. The project was scheduled to be completed in June 2017. However, due to various complications, the work of the project did not progress much. Currently, the implementation period of the project has been extended till June 2024.
Water Development Board (WDB) is implementing a project titled ‘Metropolitan Flood Control, Waterlogging and Drainage Development’. 69 pump houses are being constructed to control the flow of 23 canals connected to Karnaphuli, 3 connected to Halda and 14 connected to Bay of Bengal under this project at the cost of Tk 1,620.73 crore. The project was approved by Ecnec in 2019. Work begins in 2020. It was supposed to end in June 2022. But WDB could not complete the work within the stipulated time. The project has not been officially extended yet, but the contractor is continuing to work.
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