- 10-foot thick waste under Panthapath box culvert
- Waste disposal long overdue for 10-15 years
- Six months needed for complete waste removal
- Most of the culvert's mouths sealed up with hardened, thickened sludge matter
Waste removal from underneath the Panthapath box culvert is long overdue.
On Saturday, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) started removing a huge amount of waste accumulated under the box culvert (adjacent to the Panthakunja Park at Karwan Bazar in the capital), continuing the clean-up operation today as well.
The DSCC started the massive task after Dhaka WASA handed over the responsibility of oversight of the canals flowing through different parts of the capital.
During the removal of waste from the mouth of the canal on day 2, a pile of waste more than 10-feet thick was seen under the culvert, said DSCC cleaners and officials.
On 31 December, the Ministry of Local Government handed over the responsibility of the canal from Dhaka WASA to the two city corporations of the capital. Soon after taking charge, DSCC and DNCC started cleaning the city's canals from Saturday, a task long overdue.
As part of this work, the DSCC removed 74 tonnes of waste from five drainage pits in the box culvert on Saturday. This continued on Sunday as well, from the same spot.
During a spot visit, DSCC workers were seen cutting dry soil from under the box culvert, using a crane to lift up the soil. When they were unable to use an excavator to cut the soil, the workers, wearing oxygen masks, physically went down by boat to the spot where wastage had accumulated, and manually cut the soil with spades. The soil was then lifted up with the crane.
Indicating that water can pass through only one mouth of the culvert (as all the other mouths had become plugged with waste), the workers said, "The mouths are filled up with solid waste. Sludge several feet thick have also accumulated in the only mouth through which water can still pass. The sludge in these closed mouths have thickened and hardened like wood."
Stating waste that at least 10-foot thick had accumulated inside the culvert, DSCC cleaner Zakir Hossain told The Business Standard, "Seeing the condition inside the box culvert, it's obvious that it hasn't been cleaned since construction. The sludge has accumulated and thickened for 10-15 years, and it may take six months to fully remove it all."
Saying that removal of the thickened sludge deposits under the box culvert would be a tough job, another DSCC cleaner Kamrul Islam said, "It would have been easier if the sludge had gathered only at the mouths of the culvert. But since it has deposited both inside and at the bottom of the culvert, it won't be easy to remove."
DSCC waste management officials earlier surmised that it would take a week to remove the waste.
ABM Aminullah Nuri, the chief executive officer of DSCC, told TBS: "We will remove waste from the mouths of the culvert in Panthopath area. Based on that experience, we will chalk out a future waste removal plan for all the other canals as well. Our waste removal drive will continue."
He said, "The condition inside the culverts is still not clear. One week's work will give us an idea about next steps. On the first day, we removed 74 tonnes of waste from five drainage pits of the Panthapath box culvert. These are being taken by truck to the Matuail dumping yard. "
Dr Adil Muhammad Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, claimed that the deterioration of the canals and culverts of the capital can be attributed to WASA' negligence. If we had worked according to plan, we would not have had to find 10-feet of waste below the culvert today. The canals can be revived provided the two city corporations and other relevant government agencies work together per a well thought-out plan. City dwellers can get rid of waterlogging."
DSCC officials involved in the waste removal drive said that the culvert starting from the area adjacent to Panthakunja Park has ended at Russel Square on Mirpur Road. It has 24 mouths (drainage pits) sealed with thick, hardened deposits of sludge. On Saturday, 74 tonnes of waste were removed from its five drainage pits. All day on Sunday, waste was removed from underneath the Panthakunja Park; waste from between the drainage pits of the culvert's Kathalbagal Dhal-to-Panthapath-intersection was removed, using dredger.
Meanwhile, Dhaka North City Corporation's Chief Executive Officer Selim Reza told TBS, "We have started mapping the canals, drains and culverts under our city corporation. On Saturday and Sunday, DNCC's waste management officials visited different canals for mapping. We hope to start removing waste from Ibrahimpur canal from Monday."