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Waterlogging problem in Ctg city: Is solution in sight?

Focus on Chattogram

Pankaj Dastider | December 11, 2018 00:00:00

Waterlogging is widely believed to be the "man-made misery" of Chattogram. It wreaks havoc on the city life and floods businesses in the greater Khatungonj-Chaktai-Korbanigonj consumer wholesale market with the Karnaphuli water inflated by the rainfall and high tidal wave causing destruction to life and property. The high tide water coupled with monsoon water paralyses the normal life of the people.

The Karnaphuli River and its tributaries including the Rajakhali and Chaktai Khal inundate shops and warehouses and trading centers in the wholesale market. The vast area, house to all kinds of consumer goods, spices, dry fish, rice, pulses, wheat, onion, ginger, garlic, green and red chilli and other goods go under waist-deep water. These goods are supplied to different areas of the country round the year.

Meanwhile, to address the nagging problem of waterlogging, the authorities concerned have taken up several projects. Alongside the waterlogging reduction project worth Tk 56.16 billion now under implementation by Chittagong Development Authority, the Water Development Board and Chittagong City Corporation have undertaken two major projects to reduce the sufferings of the citizens of the port city at a cost of Tk 25.95 billion and Tk 12.56 billion respectively. Both the new projects have been approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) recently. The massive CDA waterlogging project is expected to be implemented by June 2020. The schedule for the completion of the City Corporation waterlogging project is June 2020 and that of the Water Development Board project June 2021.

Until the implementation of these projects worth Tk 94.68 billion (9,468 crore), the city people will have to undergo at least three next seasons of sufferings from flood and waterlogging. The people, however, do not expect the projects to get implemented on schedule as the work of the city corporation project and Water Development Board project will take a few months to start because both the projects lack preliminary work, including the completion of the land acquisition process.

Chattogram city, surrounded by several dozens of canals, hills and washed away by waters of the Karnaphuli River and tidal surge from the Bay of Bengal, with an area of over 60 square kilometres, goes under knee-deep to waist-deep water with the arrival of the rainy season every year, which damages properties worth several billions of Taka every year and millions of city people get almost confined for days.

The LGRD Minister Engineer Khondkar Mosharraf Hossain, who is in charge of coordinating the CDA WaterLogging Mitigation mega project, said in November 2018 that Chittagong City is the nerve centre of the national economy. If mobility of Chittagong remains active the country's economy remains active. A realistic solution to the CDA waterlogging project in coordination with Chittagong City Corporation and Chittagong Water Development Board will come out shortly and the government will be able to present a well-planned solution to mitigate the problem.

The people are now happy to see three major projects have been undertaken to address the problem. The Chittagong City Corporation took up a canal digging project back in 2011 following the CDA Master Plan. Under the project, the corporation said digging of the new canal from Bahaddarhat Baroipara to the Karnaphuli River would save the people of the low-lying areas of Bahaddarhat, Muradpur, Bakolia, Kapashgola and adjoining areas. The project worth Tk 2.90 billion (Tk 290 crores) was also approved in the ECNEC meeting in June 2014 but it failed to get release of the initial fund for land acquisition from Local Government ministry. So the CCC could not proceed with the project.

The CDA Master Plan 1995 proposed digging of three canals in the city alongside widening of the existing canals, but no project was undertaken by any state agency. In 2007, Chattogram experienced the record rainfall which flooded more than half of the total city area, which prompted urban planners to take up waterlogging reduction projects.

On November 7, 2018 the ECNEC approved the revised project proposal of the corporation in line with revisions made by Project Evaluation Committee of the Planning Commission. This time the project cost went up by Tk 9.66 billion (Tk 966 crores). The grave situation of waterlogging in the city could be redressed significantly if the former project were implemented in June 2017 as per schedule. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Under the revised project, the corporation will excavate a canal from Bahaddarhat Baroipara Chaktai Khal to Karnaphuli River via Shah Amanat Road, Maijpara near Rupnagar Housing Society, East Bakolia and Bolirhat. The city corporation will excavate 2.9-kilometre-long canal 65 feet wide, do sand lifting from the entire Chaktai Khal, renovate and construct two roads of 20-feet wide on both banks of the excavated canal.

The CDA waterlogging project aims to reclaim the city's 36 disappeared canals as per British Royal Survey (RS) by excavating the canals and drains and building 85.68-kilometre-long and 15-feet wide roads on the banks of the canals. The canals and drains in the city have lost capacity to carry the water flow during heavy rains and thus create waterlogging. A committee of engineers, consultants and experts who conducted a survey on the existing canals and drains said that 33 canals have already disappeared over 50 years while 37 canals exist now. But most of the existing canals ran dry and got narrowed causing the water stagnation.

The authority is implementing the Tk 56.16 billion waterlogging reduction project under Canal Digging, Expansion, Renovation and Development Project, which is expected to be completed by June 2020.

The CDA will dig out over 0.528 million (5 lakh 28 thousand) cubic meter mud, construct 10.77 kilometre new drains, .0176 million (1 lakh 76 thousand) metre-long retaining walls and construct 48 arch-type girder bridges and six culverts on 36 canals.

Three underground huge reservoirs will be constructed connecting Rajakhali and Mariam Khals at Chaktai-Khatungonj-Patharghata area, the second one near Moheshkhal of Halishahar and the third one at Mohra area. Alongside implementing this project the CDA is constructing the 8.5 kilometre long Chaktai Khal-Kalurghat Bridge Outer Ring Road-cum-embankment on the bank of the Karnaphuli River at a cost of Tk 19.78 billion. Work on both the projects (water logging mitigation and outer ring road-cum-embankment) are continuing simultaneously.

Regarding the waterlogging mitigation and outer ring road-cum-embankment projects, two experts said these projects will contribute in mitigating the city's staggering waterlogging problem. Vice Chancellor of the East Delta University and president of the Forum for Planned Chittagong Professor Sikandar Khan appreciated the CDA for implementing the project. He expressed the hope that it will be implemented properly as the whole project work is being performed by the Army Engineering Corpse.

Vice President of the Forum for Planned Chittagong Subhash Barua observed that the project for mitigating the city's waterlogging should have been taken earlier. However, everybody wants this project to be implemented as per schedule. Such a project was proposed in the Chittagong Master Plan 1961, he said adding no one in the authorities cared about taking up the project.

Officials at the Water Development Board said their project has been designed to pump out the stagnant rain water during monsoon by installing pump houses, new canal excavation dredging and waste management. This project will not clash with the under-implementation CDA project any way. The Board will construct many sluice gates for development of the total drainage system in the city plus to resist onrush of high tide water by raising retaining walls.

The board will construct 19 kilometre-long flood protection embankment, which includes river embankment and protection wall from Patenga Naval Academy to Number 15 Ghat Airport Canal, 6.5 kilometre flood protection wall from Kalurghat Rail-cum-Road Bridge to Kata Khal, 8.65 kilometre slope protection and flood protection wall from the Airport Canal to Navy end area and 4.5 kilometre slope protection, flood protection wall from Bangla Bazar to Shah Amanat Bridge at Bakolia, 23 regulators, pump houses, generators and sub-stations.

The project work is expected to start soon because they will not be required to acquire lands for the project. The project implantation is scheduled for completion by the middle of 2021.

To conclude, the projects, if implemented properly and on schedule, will rid the Chittagong city residents of the curse of waterlogging.


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