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19 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
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BIWTA dredging projects hit hurdles in four districts

Lack of space to dump silt, sand lifting lease and interruption by locals delay work
ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN, Dhaka
BIWTA dredging projects hit hurdles in four districts

The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has been facing problems in its dredging projects in four districts, because of lack of space to dump the dug up silt, sand lifting lease by the local administration and interruption by local people. As a result, dredging of the Arial Kha river in Narsingdi, Kaliganga in Manikganj, Atrai in Naogaon and the Chalti river in Sylhet is being hampered seriously, sources told The Independent.

As part of the plan, the government had, in July 2012, taken up a 10-year project at a cost of Tk. 1,923 crore to develop 2,386km of waterways by 2021 under "restoration 24 important river routes (first phase)".

According to sources, the dredging work of the Arial Kha was suspended for several months between Monohardi and Belabo upazilas in the Bhawalerchar area of Narsingdi district, even after completion of about 72 per cent of the capital dredging project.

The BIWTA's additional chief engineer, Saidur Rahman, said it would not be possible to complete the work by the September 14 deadline. He said the project had been approved by ECNEC in 2012 to keep this route navigable from Bhairab to Jamalpur, via Mymensingh.

He said an inter-ministerial meeting in April decided that the local administration would demarcate the river for dredging.

“We are still waiting, but the local administration is yet to demarcate the river. As a result, the government is losing financially, as it has to keep paying the dredging companies,” Rahman said in reply to a query.

An influential quarter has been insisting with the BIWTA to cut a char land instead of dredging the main channel of the Arial Kha, Rahman said. These people got the local administration on their side to claim that the main channel was once their property

He further said dredging of the Kaliganga in Manikganj district was suspended for one year as local people obstructed the work.

“We are also facing problems in dredging the Atrai in Naogaon district. The local administration has given lease to lift sand from the river. As a result, people employed by the lessee are obstructing the dredging work,” Rahman said.

Besides, there is shortage of space to dump the dredged materials, and sometimes it is not possible to shift the dredging pipes to other places due to mud, he added.

The dredging of the Chhatak-Bholaganj waterway of the Chalti river in Companyganj upazila of Sylhet district has been suspended due to interruption by the local people.

“People are under the wrong impression that they will be victims of erosion once the river is dredged. But the BIWTA has been carrying out dredging after proper study by the CEGIS. Normally, dredging work is done as per CEGIS guidelines,” Rahman said.

The BIWTA is implementing dredging projects in the Mongla Ghashiakhali Channel (MG Channel), the Khogdon, Laukathi, Bhola Nala, Kirtonkhola, Titas, Surma, Baulai, Natun Nadi, Rakti, Raksha

Nala, Mogra, Kangsha, Bhogai-Kangsha, Buri, Ichhamati, Karnatali, Palrodi, Dhaleswari, Kaliganga, Madhumati, Bhairab, Atrai, Dudhkumar, Old Brahmaputra and the Arial Kha rivers. A total of 997 lakh cubic metres of silt would be removed under the project, he said. A total of 2,386km of waterways would be developed for round-the-year navigation.

Production of crops, ducks, fish and trading on waterways would increase after dredging is completed. Farmers could use the river waters round the year for irrigation once the project is completed, the BIWTA’s additional chief engineer said.

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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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