As the incessant downpour on July 8 has left many of the low-lying areas of the port city under knee-to-waist-deep water, the issue of poor town planning has once again come to the fore. About 187.2mm of rain in 24 hours in the city has not only submerged its major streets, but also inundated many residential buildings, schools, and hospitals. The Chattogram Ma O Shishu General Hospital authorities were forced to relocate its patients, as the ground floor of the hospital building was flooded, which has become an annual phenomenon at the hospital during monsoon. What is more, mud washed down from the hills has covered many of the city streets, adding to the sufferings of the people.
Clearly, the drainage system of the city has totally broken down as most of the canals and waterbodies that snake through the city have been filled up or encroached upon by influential quarters. The shopping malls and other commercial buildings built on these grabbed canals and waterbodies have left no way for the rainwater to recede. Also, there is no mechanism in place to control the sudden onrush of tidal water. We have learned that several projects had been undertaken in the last few years to rid Chattogram of waterlogging, but to no avail. We hope that the latest project worth Tk 5,616 crore, undertaken by the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), does not face the same fate.
Needless to say, for any such project to have an impact, there needs to be a comprehensive action plan. But that is precisely what is lacking in all these projects. Chattogram needs a comprehensive town planning and the projects undertaken by the authorities to mitigate the city’s waterlogging problem have to be implemented on a fast-track basis. Rainfall during monsoon is a natural phenomenon and that should not bring such unbearable sufferings to the people.