Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Vision needed to make Dhaka’s drainage fit for purpose

Update : 02 Sep 2015, 07:08 PM

Hundreds of thousands of commuters and residents were stuck in traffic on Tuesday after one hours’ worth of rainfall, amounting to just 61mm, flooded major Dhaka thoroughfares.

The sorry state of the capital’s crumbling drainage system needs to be urgently overhauled to allow it to cope with such perfectly predictable monsoon rain showers.

At best, it is thought that less than a quarter of the 360sq-km area served by Wasa is properly covered by storm sewers, a figure which is even worse for the broader 1,500sq-km Dhaka master-plan zone.

It is completely unacceptable that a lack of foresight and inadequate maintenance has allowed preventable flooding to become a regular occurrence. As well as the cost to business this causes, it also brings health hazards, as parts of the capital unnecessarily become inundated under several feet of overflowing dirty drain water.

The government needs a long term plan to enable Rajuk and Wasa to work together with the city corporations to build a modern water and sewage management system that will properly meet the city’s future needs.

We cannot afford to continue to allow planning to lag behind the rapid growth of the city’s population. We must learn to plan ahead for at least several decades into the future.

Dhaka is covered by two flood action plans  which are meant to conserve around 7.5% of  Dhaka’s master-plan area for water retention, canals, and rivers, and leave around 75,000 acres (21%) free for flood flow zones, in order to allow for proper drainage. Despite concerns about water retention areas being grabbed and built upon, nearly two-thirds of water retention areas are already occupied.    

Clearly, for plans to work, they need to be properly managed and implemented, not neglected and over-run by out of control encroachment.

However, city authorities also need vision to ensure plans are genuinely long-term in supporting long-term sustainable growth. This means planning and building sewer and water systems that are big enough to deal with future growth. Ad hoc responses are not good enough.

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