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Thousands suffer as roads clogged with water in Sylhet

  • Published at 12:53 am November 18th, 2019
Half kilometre of Dhopagul-Shaheb Bazar-Haripur road from Dhopagul to Mohaldik bridge in Sylhet remains submerged in water leaving locals in distress Dhaka Tribune

The water accumulates from several stone crushing mills on both sides of the road due to lack of water drainage system

Almost half a kilometer -- from Dhopagul to Mohaldik bridge -- of Sylhet’s Dhopagul-Shaheb Bazar-Haripur road has remained submerged in water for long, leaving the locals in distress. 

The water accumulates from several stone crushing mills on both sides of the road due to lack of water drainage system. Tourists heading towards the popular swamp forest, Ratargul using the road, often find themselves in peril too.

This correspondent found numerous stone mills on either side of the road between Dhopagul and Salutikor on the Sylhet-Companigonj road which house hundreds of crusher machines. Despite the crusher machines, the wastewater has no option but to flow on the streets since there is no water drainage system in place, leaving the roads severely damaged.

Upon closer inspection, the damaged roads bore holes of different sizes and were clogged by water irrespective of whether it is the rainy season or dry.

Locals have recently staged demonstrations including forming human-chains to protest the lack of initiative to repair the roads.

Saiful Islam, the convener of a council that advocates for the renovation of the Dhopagul-Shaheb Bazaar road, informs that the condition of the road has been poor for the past few years. 

Despite applying to different offices on prayers to renovate the road, the results have not been convincing, which is why the residents of the region had no option left but to take to the streets demanding renovation of the road.

“Furthermore, we have demanded that the crusher machines beside the roads be removed to prevent further water clogging. We have formed a human-chain recently and last year, residents sown paddy saplings on the road as part of the protest,” he said. 

Local resident Mahbubur Rahman said: “Every day, thousands use this road. Tourists also use this road as it leads to Ratargul, the only swamp forest in Bangladesh. For half a kilometer of damaged roads, they are subjected to severe adversity.” 

Confirming the matter, Sylhet Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) Chief Engineer A S M Mohsin said: “Owners of the crusher mills did not plan proper drainage system for the water to pass, which then accumulates on the road throughout the year.

“One cannot be too hopeful about the road becoming better after renovation as it is clogged in knee-high water even during the dry season. In order to sustain the road, either the mills need to be shifted or a new road needs to be constructed for the people living in the region. Apart from that, a functional drainage system can protect the road,” he added. 

Advocate Shaheda Akhter, coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Sylhet zone said: “Despite directives to stop the implementation of crusher machines in Sylhet, the number of such machines has been increasing significantly. Crusher machines have been set right beside the road adjacent to the Osmani International Airport which harms both the nature and the surrounding neighbourhood.”

When contacted, Sylhet Deputy Commissioner M Kazi Emdadul Islam said they have plan to setup a separate crusher machine zone. 

“In order to protect the environment, steps are being taken to establish a crusher machine zone. In this regard, about 133 acres of land has been chosen in Gowainghat Upazila. Once we receive permission to do so, the land will be acquired and the crusher machines will be brought to the zone,” he said.   

At a recent event in Sylhet, BELA Chief Executive Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan told this correspondent that the government earns around Tk36cr as revenue from stone mining around the country.