The canals of Dhaka are in serious jeopardy due to rampant encroachment, indiscriminate waste dumping and lack of maintenance.
Restoring the city’s canals is essential not only for environmental reasons but also to improve the quality of life in our capital.
Over the years, as the number of canals in the capital has decreased, so have most of those which remain been seriously depleted due to encroachment.
Vanishing canals and wetlands reduce biodiversity and increase Dhaka’s vulnerability to floods by diminishing ground water levels and natural drainage. The authorities must not continue to turn a blind eye towards land-grabbers.
Dhaka Wasa must invigorate its efforts to reclaim canals from illegal occupation by building walkways, channels and planting trees to demarcate embankments. Related measures to re-dig and improve the condition of canals would have widespread public support.
It is time that the appropriate authorities come up with a comprehensive and long-term solution to restore and maintain the canals, which are vital to the health of our city. This includes coming up with better planned housing so that illegally appropriated canal land is not so attractive to developers.
An even bigger priority has to be to ensure a proper citywide waste management system, so there is no dumping of garbage into the canals.
These waterways are a crucial part of the city’s heritage and environment and should be respected in their own right as amenities for the public, not the domain of land grabbers.