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A city of floods and droughts

  • Published at 10:44 pm May 9th, 2016
  • Last updated at 07:05 pm June 1st, 2016
A city of floods and droughts
Residents of metropolitan Dhaka continue to face acute shortage of drinking water in the summer and street flooding and standing water during monsoon every year, despite Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority's (Wasa) claims that it is able to meet the citizens' needs. Dhaka north Mayor Annisul Huq and south Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon say they have been in constant communication with Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan, urging him to take preemptive measures before the dry season and the monsoon season to prevent problems. The three officials have also visited the localities in Dhaka that are prone to water crisis and flooding. Mayors Annisul Huq and Sayeed Khokon told the Dhaka Tribune that the city dwellers have faced very little water crisis this summer and they would also feel more comfort during this monsoon because of the initiatives taken to reduce flooding and standing water in the city. Wasa MD Tasqem A Khan's promise that there will be no water shortage during summer this year has fallen woefully short. The Dhaka Tribune spoke to residents of Merul Badda, Jamtala Rampura, Banasree, Bepari Goli in Boro Moghbazar and Mirpur, who said they have had no water supply this summer, or the supply was so little it barely fulfilled their basic everyday needs. In Merul Badda and Bepari Goli, residents have held protests demanding water. Taqsem Khan, however, denied that these were chronic problems in the city's water supply. He told the Dhaka Tribune that these were “pockets of crisis,” where water supply had been disrupted temporarily for any of several reasons. Wasa says it has the capacity to supply 2.25 billion litres of water a day in against a demand of 2.2 billion litres. Of Wasa's water supply, 87% comes from groundwater while the rest comes from its treatment plants. Wasa, DNCC and DSCC officials have all claimed that there will be no street flooding in the upcoming monsoon season. They pointed to the fact that the city corporations had carried out significant development works on the storm water drainage systems and surface drains in Dhaka. On the other hand Wasa officials said they had undertaken development works on its sewerage systems at the flooding prone areas across the capital. However, Wasa officials said the agency was able to provide only 30% of the sewerage facilities it would like to provide to the city dwellers, and the main reason behind this was a lack of funding. The major part of its drainage system consists of canals, rivers and lakes that help reroute extra water out of Dhaka. It also uses a storm drainage network of around 261.39 square kilometres around the city. The major canal systems in and around the capital are the Degun – Ibrahimur - Kallyanpur canal that drains out to the Turag River, the Dhanmondi – Paribagh – Gulshan – Banani – Mohakhali - Begunbari canal that drains out to the Balu River and the Segunbagicha – Gerani - Dholaikhal canal that drains out to the Balu and Buriganga rivers. There were originally 65 canals, but over the course of time, the number came down to 43. Of these, 20 canals have already died out, many of them filled up with garbage. Land grabbers are gradually encroaching on the rest. Dhaka's administration has failed to recover occupied portions of the water bodies in and around the city. DNCC Mayor Annisul Huq has urged concerned government authorities to hand over the city's canals and lakes to the two city corporations for the sake of proper planning of drainage systems.