The national task force on protecting the country’s rivers and navigability decided to take back the canals from illegal grabbing in September
The government has decided to initiate a combined survey to determine the condition of the canals in Dhaka and to make them pollution free.
The national task force on protecting the country’s rivers and navigability decided to take back the canals from illegal grabbing in September.
According to the minutes of the September 30 meeting, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Co-operatives, will lead the canal survey.
Representatives from Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Dhaka North and South city corporations (DNCC and DSCC), Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), and the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Office of Dhaka will assist in the survey.
‘12 canals unmanaged’
Anal Chandra Das, additional secretary to the shipping ministry, submitted a brief report at the meeting.
Dhaka Tribune has obtained a copy of the minutes of the meeting.
According to that, a committee was formed in the second meeting of the taskforce to visit the canals of Dhaka, led by Anal Chandra Das with representatives from Nodi Rokkha Commission, Dhaka DC office, Dhaka Wasa, Department of Environment (DoE), and BIWTA.
At the meeting Anal said that on a one-day excursion, they visited every single canal in Dhaka.
“At present, there are 38 canals in Dhaka. Of them, Wasa is in charge of 26 canals but no authority is assigned for the maintenance of the remaining 12 canals,” said Anal.
These twelve canals are Gobindapur canal, Gabtoli canal, Rayerbazar canal, Narinda canal, Dholai Khal, Jolkuri canal, Shampur canal, Kodomtoli canal, Aftabnagar canal, Gojaria canal, Atir canal, and Rana Bhola canal of Dhaka, Anal said at the meeting.
Six major canals struggling
Anal Chandra Das also made a presentation on six major canals of Dhaka at the meeting.
Kallyanpur canal is one of the biggest canals of Dhaka connected to five more canals and Dhaka Wasa has installed a pump over this canal. The canal is also divided by the Mohammadpur embankment.
Endless pollution and land grabbing has turned this canal into a drain. Abul Momen Limited and Eagle Cement have encroached on some space near the embankment. Now this canal is almost dead, according to the presentation.
Ramchandrapur canal is now without a tide and full of water hyacinths. The east side of this canal has been grabbed by a Muktijoddha Kollan Somiti slum and DNCC.
Mohammadpur Housing and Mohammadia Housing also block the waterways of the canal. Where Ramchandrapur canal and Katasur canal intersect, Jaker Dairy Farm and the University of Liberal Arts (ULAB) have filled in the canal and built a road across it without putting in a culvert or a bridge over the canal, according to the minutes.
Land grabbers have encroached on the banks of Hazaribag canal as well.
Dholaikhal, Jirani khal, and Rampura khal are connected to Nandipara canal. The west side of Nandipara canal has been grabbed by the city corporation to make a road. The east side of the canal has also been encroached upon. A temporary market sits on both banks of the canal which has also lost its flow of water.
Begunbari canal, also known as Rampura canal, has almost been freed of illegal occupation. However, some sewerage lines from Gulshan and Dhanmondi are polluting the canal. A huge dustbin was also there on the canal with parts of the canal grabbed for making roads.
A major portion of the Rupnagar canal in Mirpur has been grabbed by several housing companies and locals have built a slum over it.
What are the authorities saying?
After the presentation, Senior Secretary of the Water Resources Ministry, Kabir Bin Anwar, said there are discrepancies between the exact actual information and the presented information regarding the canals of Dhaka. A combined survey is needed.
A Dhaka Wasa director (technical) said they only maintain 26 canals for which the DC office has drawn a boundary. Sometimes Wasa faces problems operating drives against canal grabbers and he urged a combined survey.
The Rajuk representative said they would provide maps of the canals to the task force.
Dhaka South Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said no new survey is needed since satellite images can be collected from 50 years ago.
State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumdar said the Kallyanpur and Baunia canals have been grabbed by influential quarters. He urged saving the canals by putting in walkways on both sides of all the canals.
He also said that some ward councillors are grabbing government land and collecting rent, putting in slums and shops.
A drive is needed against these councillors, he added.
LGRD Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed, State Minister for Water Resources Zaheed Farooque, and Information Secretary Kamrun Nahar were present at the meeting, among others.