The Dhaka Wasa is taking up a Tk-550 crore project for canal development to solve the capital's water-logging problem.
However, the project, scheduled to complete by June 2021, will bring no respite for city residents this monsoon. It is expected to benefit five million residents when completed.
Shahid Uddin, a Wasa director, said that the project work would start after the funds are released.
Excavating the old canals and protecting them with retaining walls are two main components of the project, Shahid, also a former Wasa chief engineer, said.
The project on drainage extension and canal digging will be placed at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting today for approval.
According to a planning ministry report, 26 out of the capital's 44 canals are under Wasa's supervision. Most parts of the 26 canals have not yet been developed.
During heavy rainfall in monsoon, the city suffers from water-logging due to the poor state of canals. About 20 km old canals will be dug and improved under the project.
Dhanmondi, Hajaribagh, Shankar, Jigatola, Rayer Bazar, Mohammadpur, Shyamoli, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Darus Salam, Mirpur, Pallabi, Cantonment and Uttara areas are under the project.
The scheme that officially began last month is expected to end in December 2020.
About 52 lakh out of 2 crore Dhaka residents will be benefitted, the planning ministry proposal said.
Meanwhile, Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, local government, rural development and cooperatives minister, said that the government would instruct Dhaka Wasa and two city corporations to look after the storm drainage system in the capital.
On April 3, the Ecnec with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair approved the draft proposal for another canal excavation project that would cost Tk 607 crore.
Over 82 percent of the money would be used for acquiring 30.5 acres of “private land” in five canals--Hazaribagh, Baishteki, Sangbadaik Colony, Begunbari and Manda Khal--flowing through the city. Rest of the money would be spent for compensating the people owning structures on the land, excavation and bank development.
Excavation of a new canal, named Kurmitola, on 4.5 acres of private land is also under the scheme. The Kurmitola canal will drain rainwater out of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and the old airport in Tejgaon.
The local government ministry proposed the two-year scheme to be implemented by Dhaka Wasa by December next year.
Urban planners say the inadequate drainage managed by seven authorities with little coordination and reckless filling-up of wetlands and flood flow areas are the key reasons behind waterlogging in the capital.
They repeatedly warned against the continued destruction of the flood plains and wetland for “mindless commercial gains”.
The city's natural drainage system--comprised of a network of 65 canals and four rivers, numerous water retention areas (ponds, ditches), extensive low-lying areas and flood flow zones--has been destroyed in the name of development, they said.
Canals, rivers and water retention areas collect, carry and retain rainwater and are connected to each other as a drainage network.
The low-lying wetlands and flood flow zones earmarked in the Detailed Area Plan of Dhaka city no longer exist as they have been filled up, in many cases with government approval, resulting in severe urban waterlogging, experts said.