The capital gets inundated with just a little rainfall. It seems there is no solution to the problem despite numerous moves and assurances from related organizations.
Authorities are taking no effective measures other than ordering people to clean drains and reclaim grabbed rivers and canals. City dwellers are afraid of another waterlogging in the upcoming monsoon while the authorities seem indifferent to solving the problem.
A recent report by Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka Wasa identified 48 waterlogging-prone areas and only five drainage points in the city corporation.
Waterlogging prone areas:
According to the report, rainwater from Motijheel, Dilkusha, Doinik Bangla, Shantinagar, Malibagh, Mouchak, Segunbagicha, Paltan, Bailey Road, Siddheswari, Circuit House Road, Rajarbagh, Shantibagh, Fakirapul and Arambagh finds its way to the Balu and Buriganga Rivers through the Segunbagicha Box Culvert, Kamalapur Pump, Maniknagar canal, Jirani canal, and Manda canal.
Rainwater from Dhanmondi-27, Rapa Plaza, Dhanmondi-8/A Staff Quarters intersection, Kathal Bagan, Gastro Liver lane, Kalabagan Dolphin Lane, Green Road, Madartek, and Meradia, pass through the Panthapath Box Culvert, Hatirjheel, and Rampura canal, and finally end up in the Balu River.
Rainwater from New Market, west-south Bottola, BGB gates 3 and 4, Nazimuddin Road, Hossaini Dalan, Chawkbazar, Lalbagh, Kazi Alauddin Road, and Bangsal, drain into the Buriganga River through the Buriganga sluice gate.
However, there is no drainage system for rainwater in Gulistan, causing waterlogging in the Secretariat and Bangabhaban areas after rainfall.
Water from Khilgaon, Basabo and Mugda is drained through the Basabo, Madartek, and Trimohoni canals,finally reaching the Balu and Buriganga rivers.
Rainwater from Kaptan Bazar, Laxmibazar, and Agamasi Lane are drained through the English Road, Dholaikhal box culvert, ending up at the Sutrapur pump. Rainwater from Jurain, Postogola, Muradpur, Shyampur, Kodomtola and Doyaganj rail bridge are drained throughthe Zia Sarani canal, Rosulbagh, and Shimrail pump (Water Development Board), draining into the Shitalakshya river.
There is no drainage system for rainwater from Mir Hajaribagh.
The report mentioned numerous reasons for waterlogging. The reasons include a decrease in the number of wetlands, filling up of rivers, drains and canals, faulty drainage systems or lack thereof , impediments to the drainage system due to utility lines, fewer natural water reservoirs, and drainage networks choked by garbage, and the lack of separate storm and waste sewer lines.
The report came up with a number of recommendations including Was setting up a drainage network in collaboration with DSCC, putting in proper drain outlets and cleaning them on a regular basis, installing pipes for lanes and main roads based on the volume of water , setting up adequate drainage lines to accommodate heavy rainfall, constructing drains by following geographical locations, completing digging on time, filling up roads with sand after digging by various agencies, removing garbage immediately after collecting it from drains, reclaiming grabbed canals, setting up separate sewerage line in every neighbourhood, not piling up construction materials on the road, cleaning up box culverts, keeping open lowlands and marshlands, and setting up new water reservoirs.
Other recommendations are: setting up drainage infrastructure and their expansion where needed, maintaining catch pits, saucer drains, open drains, pipe drains, storm sewer lines and box culverts, installing separate sewage lines for rainwater and waste sewage lines, reclaiming natural reservoirs, rivers, canals, lakes and lowlands, preventing throwing of waste in drainage systems, raising public awareness, enforcing laws, stopping illegal grabbing of rivers and canals, conserving canals naturally instead of constructing box culverts, expanding canals and canal banks and making arrangements for big water reservoirs in pumping areas and increasing their capacity.
According to a study by the Poribesh Bachao Andolan, water and waste of the city is directly being drained into the Buriganga, Turag, Shitalakshya, and Balu rivers, polluting the river waters .
Water experts said there is supposed to be 5 mg of dissolved oxygen or DO in water, but due to pollution the DO in the water of these rivers has come down to below one mg, which is endangering biodiversity in the river.
Haji Aolad Hossain, panchayet committee member of old Dhaka, said: “Every year mayors of the two city corporations, the managing director of Wasa and the local government minister speak a lot about resolving waterlogging. But we see no improvement. The city corporation should identify the waterlogged areas and take prompt measures.”
According to findings, the DSCC has 781.83 km of roads and 217.38 km footpaths, 466.43 km open, and 495.44 km of pipe drains.
Apart from that, Dhaka Wasa has 10 km of box culverts, 65 km canals, four pumping stations and 346 km pipe drains (primary lines). Through these facilities, water goes to Dhanmondi lake, Jirani-Nandipur canal, Khilgaon-Basabo canals 1,2 and 3, Jirani canal, Hajaribagh canal, Dholaikhal, Segunbagicha canal 1 and 2, and Manda canal. DSCC water is drained to the Buriganga and Balu rivers through these canals.
Agencies which are working on reducing waterlogging in the city are Dhaka Wasa, DSCC, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Bangladesh Water Development Board, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, and District Administration. Even after that, city dwellers face severe waterlogging during the monsoon.
Dhaka saw severe waterlogging in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998, 2008, and 2017.
What officials and experts say
Dhaka Wasa Managing Director, Taskim A Khan, said: “Dhaka now looks like a bucket due to the filling up of lowlands. That is why water has to be drained through pumping. We clean up canals and ponds every year. We have to set up artificial drains to resolve waterlogging in Dhaka.”
Dhaka South City Corporation Chief City Planner, Sirajul Islam, said: “We have identified more than 50 waterlogging prone areas in the jurisdiction of Dhaka South City Corporation. Now we are working on draining water from these areas.”
He said Dhaka Wasa is responsible for resolving waterlogging. “Our workers clean up drains with jet and sucker machines on a regular basis. Besides, new drains are being constructed every year to stop waterlogging.
“Many donor agencies provide funds, alongside the annual budget allocation of Dhaka South City Corporation for maintenance, repair, and reconstruction of these drains. Despite these initiatives there is no significant improvement. Rather waterlogging is becoming severe every year.”
This year the Dhaka South City Corporation estimated a budget of Tk193 crore for constructing roads, footpaths and surface drains. Almost all the money is already spent. However, city dwellers anticipate there will be no respite from waterlogging in the coming monsoon.
In addition to the city corporation, Dhaka Wasa also spends a lot of money on cleaning up drains. But there is no improvement of the drainage system.
Urban planner Mubasshar Hussein said: “We have to see where the newly constructed drains start and end. The end part of each drain should be connected to a flowing canal or river. But this is not happening in Dhaka.”
“The ends of 8-10 canals in Dhaka have been blocked by housing companies. As a result there is no flowing canal. It will be of no use even after cleaning canals or drains if the ends are blocked and there is no water flow, which is why the city gets submerged after rainfall.”
Mubasshar further said: “The five drainage systems identified in the report are inadequate for this big city. We have been saying over and over that all service agencies will have to take coordinated initiatives to revive the water flow in these canals, drains, and rivers. We have to hand this over to an agency which will work on the matter. Otherwise we will not get rid of waterlogging.”
An expert committee made a master plan in the 1990s following a survey to eliminate waterlogging in Dhaka. But none of its proposals were implemented.
Prof Aktar Mahmud of the Urban and Regional Planning department at Jahangirnagar University, and vice president of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said: “We have to implement the master plan of the 90s. Another master plan was made in 2015. But Dhaka Wasa has not published it.”
He said: “All open lands are being filled up in Dhaka. If the master plan is not implanted right now then we will not be able get land to construct reservoirs in the future and the situation will worsen.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com