Heavy rain turned many parts of Khulna city into swamps yesterday, paralysing normal life and creating a traffic chaos. Thoroughfares, lanes and bylanes were partially or fully submerged in those areas, causing immense sufferings to city dwellers.
According to the Met office, 115 millimetres of rainfall, highest in the year, was recorded in the city till noon yesterday. Amirul Azad, senior met officer of Khulna, told The Daily Star that within a span of nine hours (from 3am to 12pm) 115-millimetre rainfall was recorded in the city.
Over the years, waterlogging has become a perennial problem in the city, especially in rainy season. Experts said due to unabated encroachment of waterbodies and a lack of proper drainage system, all it takes is a little rain and the city goes under water.
Whenever it rains, water overflows from drains and inundates most roads, shops and houses, said residents.
They alleged that the sufferings of around 1.7 million people living in 45.65 sq km area under 31 wards in the riverine divisional city persist due to indifference of the authorities concerned.
Visiting areas including Khanjahan Ali Road, Lower Jashore Road, Rupsha Strand Road, KDA Avenue, Iqbalnagar, Tutpara, Gallamari, Moilapota, Dakbanglo, Santhidham Mor, Phulmarket and Press Club, this correspondent saw that most roads went under ankle to knee-deep water.
People of low lying areas such as Bastuhara, South Pabla, Dayana and Boyra were the worst sufferers. Many enclosures washed away in Dayana and South Pabla areas.
Due to incessant rain, business establishments in many areas had to remain shut. Besides, many kitchen markets including Sheikhpara, Bastuhara and Boikali went under water. Almost all the city slums got inundated.
Many vehicles were found stranded on waterlogged roads at Dakbanglo and Shibbari Mor.
People were seen wading through filthy water to go to their destinations. Some were busy protecting their homes and shops from water while others were trying to drain and scoop water out.
This time, children did not have to suffer much as they were mostly home since schools had been closed because of Eid vacation.
Rajesh Golder, a resident of Pabla Sabuj Sangha area in Daulatpur, told The Daily Star that most of the city drains are not properly cleaned. “They are filled with polythene, plastic bottles and household garbage.”
Baby Begum, a teashop owner in Bastuhara area, said, “This [waterlogging] has become a common phenomenon in the area. My store went under knee-deep water.” She said despite rain and waterlogging, she opened her store for business.
“We don’t have sufficient drains here. Many kept their stores shut but I cannot afford to do that,” she added.
Locals blamed the authorities for their continuous misery.
Sheikh Ashrafuzzaman, secretary general of Greater Khulna Unnayan Sangram Committee, said the major election manifesto of the KCC mayor was to free city’s 22 canals. “But we are yet to see any result,” he said.
“Due to encroachment by influential locals and continuous dumping of waste, most canals do not flow properly and the waterlogging crisis remains at large,” he added.
According to KCC sources, it has around 550 employees to clean and maintain 2,187 drains.
Contacted, Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque said during high tides in Bhairab and Rupsha, drain water cannot flow into the rivers properly as the rivers’ water level goes over the sluice gate. “As a result, tidal water also enters the city’s drainage channel. In addition, when it rains, water also gets stuck on the roads, creating waterlogging,” he added.
“KCC has taken steps to repair and construct drains as well as excavate 22 canals including Mayur by spending Tk 820 crore, which will lessen waterlogging in the city,” assured Khaleque.
“We have already freed many parts of Mayur so that rainwater can flow in the river uninterrupted,” he added.
The mayor said the district administration, Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, Khulna Development Authority and police as well as residents will have to work together to mitigate the city’s waterlogging crisis.