The picture published in yesterday's paper portrays a menace we are all too familiar with: canals blocked by garbage. The inevitable waterlogging that causes immense misery to the city dwellers has also become part of our urban scenario. A World Bank study predicts a cumulative financial loss of Tk 11,000 crore in the next 35 years, if waterlogging and urban flooding is not addressed.
The study says that an investment of just Tk 270 crore to improve the city's drainage system could cut down the damage by a third. This means investing in storm water drainage pumps and drainage infrastructure proposed in the Detailed Area Plan and Sewerage Master Plan. But it also means recovering canals and other water bodies that have been clogged up with garbage or blatantly grabbed by the influential. Even the mayors of the city have expressed their frustration about the illegal occupation of water bodies.
The immediate step to reduce waterlogging, therefore, would be to evict all illegal occupation of water bodies. This only the government can do as many of the encroachers enjoy the indulgence of the authorities concerned. The mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has promised to recover all grabbed canals but has admitted that it will take time as there are many cases against canal grabbers pending in court. These cases must be disposed of quickly so that the canals are free again to hold the extra water during rains.
By assisting the two mayors in clearing the water bodies of garbage and encroachment and making the small investment in infrastructure suggested by the WB study, the government can bring about a revolutionary change in a city regularly paralysed by waterlogging.