- Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), Chattogram City Corporation and Water Development Board are implementing four waterlogging alleviation projects involving Tk10,000 crore
- The projects are supposed to be completed by 30 June this year
- The agencies concerned have not progressed enough to finish the projects on time
- 19 km of canals in the city have no security fence or retaining walls
- There are open drains in 5,527 places in the port city
- Eight people have died and one went missing in these canals in the last six years, while many were injured
Chattogram city residents hoped that the port city would be free from waterlogging this rainy season when four projects taken in this regard would be completed. But now they fear that the situation might worsen this year as the projects have not been finished yet.
Under these projects, dams or earthen barriers were built in the canals across the port city to construct retaining walls or safety walls on both sides of them.
These dams, which were supposed to be removed after completing the wall construction work, narrowed the canals and reduced their capacity to carry water, raising fears of a worsened waterlogging situation among residents of the city.
The Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), Chattogram City Corporation and Water Development Board are implementing the four projects, involving Tk10,000 crore, which are supposed to be completed by 30 June this year. But they have not progressed enough to be finished on time, said sources.
Sources at CDA say only 60% of the work in the project taken has been completed so far. The Chattogram City Corporation has not been able to complete the land acquisition process for the new canal excavation project taken eight years ago. There is no significant progress in the project taken by the Water Development Board either, said the sources.
At a meeting held on 6 April for coordinating work among the agencies, the Chattogram city mayor and councilors expressed concerns over these dams and decided to remove them by the end of April, but there are yet dams in at least five canals across the city.
Participants at the meeting also discussed the issue of open canals and drains that have become death traps and decided to resolve these problems before the start of the rainy season this year. But no progress has been made to this end yet.
In recent times, five people, including a university student, have died after falling into these canals. Eight people have died and one has gone missing in these canals in the last six years, and many others were injured.
According to the Chattogram City Corporation, there are 57 canals – 1,137 km in length – across the city. Among these, 19 km of canals have no security fence or retaining walls. CDA is working in 36 of these canals under the waterlogging elimination project.
Besides, there are open drains in 5,527 places in the port city. The Chattogram City Corporation identified these dangerous spots in October last year, but it has not been able to make them safe for city dwellers yet.
Visiting the canals on Wednesday (18 May), our correspondent found that there are dams in different areas of Chashma canal from Gate Number 2 area to Bahaddarhat in the city.
There are also dams in Mirzakhal canal flowing beside Haji Chan Mia road. Retaining walls have been constructed in different areas of the canal.
There are also dams in Domkhal canal beside the Arakan road in the Chandgaon area of the city, which cause flooding in the area.
Abdul Alim Chowdhury, a resident of Golam Ali Nazir Bari area of Chandgaon, said, "The whole area from Pathania Goda to Khaja Road gets flooded even after a little rainfall. Homes there get flooded in knee-deep water. Traffic movement also comes to a halt on roads in the area."
The Firingi Bazar area of Chattogram city has rarely suffered from waterlogging in the past, but after the waterlogging alleviation projects started in the Firingi Bazar canal, waterlogging arose as a problem there.
Due to the dams in the canal, this area was flooded last year. Although the dams have already been removed from the surrounding canals, dams remain over a large portion of the Firingi Bazar canal. If they are not removed soon, flooding will occur again, said locals.
Kamrul Islam, additional chief engineer of Chittagong City Corporation, said, "At the last coordination meeting, CDA had said the canal dams would be removed before the onset of the monsoon season. Currently, some dams are being removed from the canals. The city corporation has been urging the CDA to remove the remaining dams immediately."
Kazi Hasan Bin Shams, chief engineer of CDA, said, "There is no dam in Chaktai and Rajakhali canals, which are the main means of drainage in Chattogram city. We will remove the remaining piles of soil from the canals before the rainy season.
"We are working on 36 out of 57 canals of the city under the waterlogging elimination project. Naturally, there will be waterlogging if the rest of the canals are not cleaned by the agencies concerned," he added.