Crumbling embankment spells disaster for Ctg city
The south portion of the embankment built to protect Chittagong city is crumbling in Patenga due to high tides of the monsoon, putting over two lakh people's lives and some major industrial settlements at risk.
Already three large portions and about 10 to 15 small portions of the wall have been washed away by sea water.
"If the dyke is not repaired immediately then it would easily collapse in a tidal surge," said Nazrul Islam Mintu, a local.
With the crumbling embankment, ward-40 in Patenga and South Halishahar are in danger of being inundated, said Joynal Abedin, the ward councillor.
Besides, industrial settlements, including the Eastern Refinery Ltd, General Electric Manufacturing Company, Chittagong EPZ, Karnaphuli EPZ, Shah Amanat International Airport, and numerous other private establishments would also suffer irreparable damage.
The 21.7km dyke was built between 1965 and 1970 from Patenga to Bhatiary in Sitakunda upazila to protect the city from the Bay of Bengal on the west coast.
It suffered massive damage during cyclones and tidal surges of 1970, 1985, 1988 and 1991. The Water Development Board (WDB) rehabilitated the embankment from 1992 to 1996. The 14 feet wide embankment is 8.5 to 8.7 metres high from mean sea level.
During the rehabilitation, a 1.4km stretch of it in south-east portion was protected by a seawall and 4.2km by stones, as those areas regularly face strong waves. Clay makes the remaining part of the embankment.
Currently, the embankment is particularly weak in Char Para, Jele Para and Khejur Tola areas.
Momtaz Mia, a resident of Khejur Tola, said WDB contractors did not repair the embankment properly. About three months back, the authorities used sand bags to shore up the damaged parts.
He claimed they even took sand from the sea right below the dyke, weakening the wall, adding that the sand bags were washed away during the first heavy tidal surge.
Bidyut Kumar Saha, executive engineer of WDB, Chittagong Circle, said, "Three points of the embankment were repaired spending Tk 1.2 crore in May 2014."
He said they have handed over the custody of the embankment to the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) since it will carry out a project to set up a four-lane road on top of the embankment.
CDA has temporarily repaired the damaged part in Khejur Tola with sand bags, which can be washed away should a storm surge occur. No repair work has been carried out in the other damaged areas.
Kazi Hasan Bin Shams, superintendent engineer at CDA and project director of the four-lane road work, said they will carry out permanent repairs when the four-lane project will get rolling in October.