The unforgiving water-logging

Published: July 15, 2018 22:01:29 | Updated: July 17, 2018 22:06:08

Dhaka's menace of water-logging continues to emerge with renewed vengeance every year. In the first of the 2-month monsoon, the city has already experienced punishing bouts of water-logging.  This has, reasonably, prompted its residents to start bracing for worse times in the coming month of Shrabon (July-August). Many fear the rains coupled with water-logging this year will cross the normal time-limit. In the previous years, roads and low-lying areas went under stagnant rain water after long hours of downpour. Quite expectedly, the resultant sufferings afflicting the city-dwellers have been blamed on a double whammy: erratic behaviour of the climate and deterioration in Dhaka's collapsing rainwater drainage aggravated by the miserable state of the execution of an efficient plan.

With Dhaka's urban infrastructural drawbacks continuing to multiply, its perennial problem of water-logging now strikes the city's residents with unforgiving force. Its proverbially effective canals are gone, unplanned urban structural expansion and population growth continue unabated.  To add to these woes, dilly-dallying and buck-passing on the part of the authorities in working out lasting remedies has led the scourge to spiral beyond control. Stuck in such an abyss created by lack of proactive measures, all promises and pledges on fighting water-logging appear banal to the Dhaka-dwellers. If the litany of the programmes to free Dhaka of the scourge tires people, they cannot be dismissed as pessimists. However, efforts that might make a difference have not been exhausted. Thus the optimists may take heart from the approval in last April by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) of a grand project to save five canals in Dhaka. The project on restoring the canals in the capital was attached significant emphasis by the Planning Minister at the approval-giving meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.

The modus operandi for making the canals functional speaks of the government's readiness to address one of the most dreadful hazards plaguing today's Dhaka. Titled 'Land Acquisition, Excavation, Re-excavation of Hazaribagh, Baishteki, Kurmitola, Manda and Begunbari Canals', the project is slated to be implemented from December 2018 to December 2019.  The minister was forthright in elucidating its main objective, which, he said, was tackling Dhaka's water-logging by keeping the flow of water through the canals normal during the monsoon.

Grandiloquent pledges to recover the city's now-extinct centuries-old canals have so far proved mere ritualistic. Few governments seemed serious enough to deal firmly with the encroachment on the vital canals, leaving them to fall into disuse and finally be grabbed. Restoration of the pragmatically planned canals would, hopefully, emerge as an effective bulwark against water-logging. Prompt and full implementation of the project on bringing five major canals of Dhaka to life is expected to keep a vast area of the city relieved of water-logging. But when the menace is put in perspective, some other ills come to the fore. One of those, i.e. lack of coordination between the two city corporations and the water and sewerage authority in streamlining the city's roads and drainage was singled out by the Local Government Minister last year. Upon fixing the problem, he assured the Dhaka-dwellers of a city free of water-logging this year. The prevailing reality speaks otherwise.

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