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4 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Rains expose Dhaka’s drainage conditions

The rains that fell on the city on Tuesday and caused probably the worst water-logging problem witnessed in parts of the city in living memory should serve as a wake up call to all
Sukanta Debnath
Rains expose Dhaka’s drainage conditions
Dhaka flooded by rain waters on Tuesday

The  occasional heavy rains that have been pouring over the city for the last fortnight have once again exposed its vulnerability to serious waterlogging and even flooded conditions caused by its dysfunctional drainage system. The rains that fell on the city on Tuesday and caused probably the worst water-logging problem witnessed in parts of the city in living memory should serve as a wake up call to all. It is more than high time to start addressing the city’s water-logging problem with the seriousness it deserves. Tuesday’s flooded conditions of Dhaka showed up all too clearly that under the prevailing drainage conditions long standing and large scale paralysis may occur in city life in the years ahead.
Therefore, there is every reason for this government which has been showing real activism in many vital spheres, to take immediate actions to the best of its ability to overcome years of shocking neglect and irresponsibility in improving drainage conditions so that the worst premonition of the residents of the city about their mobility can be removed. Indeed, it is possible, even now, to execute contingency plans to improve drainage conditions in the short run. For this purpose, the man made drainage infrastructures such as sewer lines, storm sewer lines, box culverts and surface drains, will have to be thoroughly cleaned under a crash programme starting right away. Pumps will have to be set up in many places and manned efficiently to pump out rain waters round the clock. The same can work as good mitigation measures in the short run.
Water-logging in Dhaka city has been posing as a problem since the eighties. Parts of the city get flooded for hours after even a short spell of heavy rains. The movement of traffic becomes very hazardous under these conditions. Automotive vehicles also turn dysfunctional from such situations with water getting inside their exhaust chutes and engines. People have to wade through flooded lanes and by-lanes barefoot and with folded up trousers before they can board a vehicle to take them to their destinations. This waterlogging was sought to be taken care of by various man made drainage projects. But the effectiveness of these projects was questioned year after year as the water-logging problem turned worse and worse. This year the problem is showing up at its worst.
However, for a long lasting solution , the natural drainage conditions of the city must be fully restored. Only decades ago, Dhaka was a naturally protected city from flooding, water-logging and related problems. This was because the city at that time had a far smaller population and, more significantly, unplanned urbanization and unconscionable activities had not taken their toll. But now, the situation is completely different. There existed some 26 canals and hundreds of large and small ponds and marshlands or wetlands in and around Dhaka even in the early seventies. But the canals were encroached upon and filled up and only five of them in a very narrowed and precarious state exist now ; the water bodies have been also largely filled up by real estate developers and others to build all kinds of structures on them.
The outcome of these activities has meant depriving the city of its natural drainage system during the monsoon period. The canals used to drain off flood and rain waters naturally and the water bodies played a part in holding excess water. Thus, largely deprived of this natural drainage system, the city these days suffers chronically from water-logging and flooding. Clearly, actions are needed to be taken on high priority basis to preserve and improve the remaining natural drainage channels and recover the encroached ones.

The writer is an occasional contributor to the Independent

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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