Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) has spent Tk345.5 crore in the last 16 years and Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) spent Tk575 crore in the last two years to address water-logging problems in the port city, but the perennial problem of waterlogging has remained the same.
During the rainy season at least 22 wards, out of 41 wards, in the city remains inundated after a moderate rainfall. Flash flood aggravates the situation in the city's Agrabad, Halishahar, Patenga, Kattali, Bandartila, Goshaildanga, Saltgola Crossing, Chaktai-Khatungonj, and Bakalia.
Besides, every year some new areas are faced with the problem of waterclogging. The city dwellers just don't know when their suffering will end.
The aggregate amount of Tk920.5 crore, spent by the two organisations (CCC and CDA) so far to solve the persistent problem of waterlogging in the city, has gone down the drain, as the money was spent without any proper planning, alleged the city planners and city dwellers.
City planner Engineer Suvash Barua told The Business Standard, "The residents are not getting the benefit out of the spent money, as the money was not spent in a planned manner. They spent Tk900 crore, but the city residents are not getting any benefit out of this spent money; this is so, due to wrong planning, design and construction. Spending money in such unplanned way is nothing but wasting people's money."
"If CDA cleaned up the exiting canals and drains immediately during the first phase of the project, at least the city dwellers would be partially benefited. If they did some cleaning up of specific areas such as Bakalia area, then area such as Bakalia would get benefitted in some way. Unfortunately, now the whole city goes under water in a moderate rain. The bottom line: If they did the planning in the right way, we would get at least some benefit," Barua added.
Engineer Ali Ashraf, pro-vice chancellor at the Southern University Bangladesh, questioned "Where the CDA has spent Tk575 crore in the last two years. If they spent this huge amount of money to address the problem of waterlogging, why the city still goes under water?"
Ray of hope, plunged
When the suffering of the city dwellers, caused by waterlogging, were mounting and the city corporation did not make any headway regarding the problem, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), on August 9, 2017, approved a CDA project, involving Tk. 5,616.50 crore, to solve the problem of waterlogging in Chattogram city, the proposed project set to get completed by June 2020.
As the project implementation phases progressed, the city dwellers had high hopes that they would finally get rid of waterlogging; however, after two years since the implementation of the project began, the perennial waterlogging problems still remains at large with new areas getting engulfed by the long-standing problem.
CDA spent Tk575 crore in last two years under the project; they spent Tk150 crore in 2017, and Tk425 crore in 2018-2019 fiscal.
CDA, so far, has been able to complete not any more than 20 percent of the project work amid the persistent suffering of the city dwellers owing to water-clogging. The development authority now wants to extend the time for completing the project two years more.
Ahmed Moin Uddin, the project director, told The Business Standard, "We have completed about 20 percent of the project work. It will take more time to complete the entire project. Actually, we spent the last two years in re-drawing and designing the project. So, we will not be able to complete the project within the stipulated deadline. We will propose to extend the project period for two years more."
To begin with, the project design was found flawed, as the design did not include the plan for excavation of all the 57 canals in the city. As the city planners expressed their concern regarding the project design, the CDA had to revise the project.
The CDA is implementing the project with the help of Bangladesh Army engineering crops. Recently, they have started on massive drives to evict the illegal encroachment along the city canals.
Tareq Alam, a banker who was stuck on a water-clogged street in Sholoshahar area in the port city on Monday, said, "It is really surprising that CCC and CDA spend several hundred crores of money every year to address waterlogging, but the situation is aggravating every year. There seems to be no remedy. Where the spent money has gone? I doubt whether they have been spending the money somewhere else or the money has really been spent to address the waterlogging problem."
CCC spent Tk 345 crore in 16 years
CCC was mainly responsible for keeping the city canals clean and excavated. They spent about Tk345 crore in last 16 years. The general election manifesto included addressing waterlogging as one of the main commitments to the city dwellers.
Former Chattogram city mayor and city Awami Legue president ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury spent Tk66 crore to this end during his tenure from 2010 to 2015.
In 2010, M Manjur Alam, after getting elected as mayor, made promises to the voters to address waterlogging in the city. He spent Tk205.5 crore to this end with no apparent improvement of the situation.
In 2015, the present mayor AJM Nasir Uddin also made same promises to the voters, spending Tk74 crore in last four years with no noticeable improvement in the city's waterlogging problem.
As the CDA is presently implementing a project, approved by the ECNEC, for solving waterlogging problem, the CCC does not have any budget to address the issue this year.
CCC mayor AJM Nasir Uddin said: as the CDA is implementing a project concerning the waterlogging issue, all the city canals are under the surveillance of CDA now, so we have nothing more to do on the issue; however, putting an end to the waterlogging problem was my electoral promise to the city dwellers. He also said that delay in addressing the issue will tarnish the image of the government ahead of the next election.
Many city dwellers lament that the city mayors come and go one after another with promises of ridding the city of waterlogging; however, their fate remain unchanged.