POST TIME: 3 November, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Reclaiming the city’s canals

Reclaiming the 
city’s canals

A picture on the front page of The Independent tells it all: unabated grabbing of Meradia Canal has made the canal very narrow, choking the way of drainage of the capital’s relevant area. The mindless grabbing of city’s vital drainage is not limited to Meradia Canal only, the reality of the city’s other canals are more or less the same.

It is not true that the government did not take any step to rescue the city’s canals, but the grabbers seemed to be always more powerful than the government. In the past the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) took a plan to recover encroached part of canals from illegal grabbers and then build walkways along them. The plan was taken up with the thought that this approach could finally save the canals. The walkways would also act as deterrents for the illegal encroachers.

The plan was indeed good. But the execution was not speedy. Walkways were made partially around the city’s different canals. Execution of the plan was delayed, it was reported that even parts of the two canals at Kalyanpur were re-encroached and new slums grew up again on the canals’ banks.

Therefore, any work of reclaiming canal in a slapdash manner will not help. It is difficult to understand why the government is failing to protect these canals. Even two decades ago, the Dhaka City had more than 100 canals that could effectively drain away rain water. But more than half of the canals just disappeared by now reducing the number of canals to around 40.

According to statistics, of these canals, 22 have completely dried up or have become completely clogged, and 21 are in moribund condition, due to encroachment. These remaining canals with the width of 10 to 30 meters and a total length of around 65 kms are now hardly able to drain away even 10 per cent of the storm water during the rainy season.

Dhaka has a bad name for its traffic congestion and water logging. During the rainy season, the twin problems become just deplorable. Not surprisingly, the city is often placed among the worst liveable cities in the world. The condition of the city is fast deteriorating and the sooner the relevant authorities realise this, the better. It is not only Meradia Canal; recovery of all canals in the capital has become absolutely necessary.