Partially blocked for development, Chattogram canals add to waterlogging worries

Chattogram reeling under waterlogging during summer rains has served as a dire warning for what lies in store for the city in monsoon. The soil fillings used at 36 points of 18 canals for the construction of retaining walls have now added to the residents’ worries.

The city corporation had written to Chattogram Development Authority to remove the fillings within May so that water can flow normally during monsoon.

The work on 12 canals has ended and five more will be complete by June-end. With more time required to complete the rest of the project, CDA says it must be allowed to finish the project. Otherwise, the project will not yield the expected results.

The CDA also claimed the situation would be better than before this time even if the project continues, and the city corporation should do properly its part of the job – keeping the canals clean.

A total of 1,077 kilometres of drains and 176,000 metres of retaining walls will be created under the Tk 56 billion project. Authorities will excavate nearly 1 million cubic metres of soil and mud, and construct 85 kilometres of road and five sluice gates.

PROJECT MUST BE COMPLETED

Authorities have set up the retaining wall at one side of Rajkhali canal and the work to set up the wall on the other side is ongoing. Worker Md Shahjahan said he estimates it will take two more weeks to complete the construction.

Workers are excavating soil from the canal. Shahjahan said the soil will be removed after drying.

At another point of the canal, the construction of retaining walls has yet to begin. Workers have kept excavated soil on one side of the canal for the construction, blocking the canal partially.  

A resident of the area, Nurul Islam, said authorities used two large pipes under the fillings for the water to flow, but the pipes are not so big to let all the water flow. “Therefore, the canal overflows during high tide. The same thing happens when it rains, submerging the streets.”

At Baptist Mission Road in Patharghata, workers are piling soil after demolishing parts of buildings on both sides of a canal to construct the retaining walls.

Md Islam, a local, said the entire canal was covered with buildings. The workers said it would take around a month to complete the work.

Project Director Lieutenant Colonel Md Shah Ali said they already removed some of the fillings and were waiting the work to end at some other points.

“If we return without finishing the work where the basements and walls have not been constructed, it’ll cause more harm. There’ll be soil in some canals, but that won’t create waterlogging because we will keep space for the water to flow. The situation will be better than the last time,” he said.

Rafiqul Islam Manik, chief engineer of Chattogram City Corporation, said the situation would be tolerable if CDA could remove the fillings early. “Otherwise, what’s supposed to happen, [waterlogging] will happen.”

He, however, agreed with CDA officials that the project needs completion to get its benefits fully.

POLYTHENE BAGS, RUBBISHES BLOCK FLOW

Rubbishes dumped in Chaktai canal, especially polythene bags, have blocked the flow of water at Dhunirpool in Chawkbazar and Bahaddarhat.     

Saiful Alam, a resident of Dhunirpool, alleged the authorities keep the rubbishes on the banks of the canal after excavation drives and subsequently the rubbishes fall into the canal again.

Kazi Hasan Bin Shams, chief engineer of CDA, said the city corporation has to dump rubbishes as it has no waste management plant. “In many cases, rubbishes fall into the canals again. The canals excavated a month ago have been filled with rubbishes again. We won’t get a result if this continues.”

He also emphasised finishing the project first to solve the waterlogging problem of the city.

Rafiqul, the chief engineer of CCC, said the city corporation conducts its drive to remove polythene bags and rubbishes from the canals daily.