The water-logging problem of Chattogram city will not be fixed solely by constructing sluice gates in Chaktai Canal. Instead, the city needs to reclaim the 71 canals that have been flowing over the city and been grabbed illegally by a section of people.
Experts remarked this at a seminar organised by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) at a hotel in the port city on Thursday.
They noted that the authorities have spent an amount of Tk324 crore on Chaktai Canal in the last 14 years, to mitigate the water-logging problem of the city. But the situation of the canal has yet to see any significant improvement. Pollution, coupled with illegal grabbing, has put the canal in a dire situation.
It is not possible to end the waterlogging problem of the city merely by constructing sluice gates, instead of reclaiming the canals as per the Flood Detail Plan of 1969, they mentioned.
Jamir Uddin, deputy-director of the Department of Environment, addressed the seminar as chief guest with Chittagong University Professor Dr Shah Alam in the chair.
Aliur Rahman, senior journalist and general secretary of Chattogram Canal and River Protection Movement, spoke at the occasion as the keynote speaker. Bela's Head of Program Advocate Khorshed Alam and its Program and Field Coordinator AMM Mamun, among others, spoke.
The speakers said that construction of 23 pump houses in the River Karnaphuli, three in Halda, 69 in 14 other canals connecting the Bay of Bengal, and a sluice gate in Chaktai Canal is a suicidal plan.
The authorities are moving forward with the plan in order to control flood water, fix waterlogging problems and ensure a smooth drainage system in the city.
The speakes said if the sluice gate is closed during high tide and the city simultaneously sees more than 100 milliliters of rainfall, most of the areas will be submerged.
Against such a backdrop, building a sluice gate on Chaktai Canal means killing the canal forever, they warned.
The seminar placed a ten-point recommendation, stressing a concerted effort by all sides concerned. Further, it laid emphasis on protecting ponds, canals and other water-bodies – erecting boundary walls in necessity.