Capital dredging in all rivers soon
Capital dredging will be carried out soon in all rivers of the country to revive the lost waterways.
Many major and small rivers and tributaries are facing serious navigability problem as all the rivers got silted and there was no dredging to maintain navigability.
Chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Md Abdul Malek Mia said this while talking to BSS.
The country had 24,000km long waterways in the past, but silting of riverbeds hampered navigability of the waterways. At present, the country has 5,968km navigable waterways during the monsoon while 3,865 km during dry season.
To maintain the navigability of the rivers, a massive dredging of the rivers is required on yearly basis, Abdul Malek said adding that but due to paucity of funds and shortage of dredger BIWTA could not meet the dredging requirement in all routes.
With the directives of the prime minister, the BIWTA has prepared a master plan for dredging of 53 routes involving 328 million cubic meter of silt at a cost of Tk 114.73 billion.
Malek said after assuming power, the present government is giving importance on waterways and working to increase waterways through capital dredging.
As part of the initiative of increasing waterways, the government is also working to introduce circular water routes around the Dhaka city by dredging and removing wastes from the river Buriganga.
A project of circular waterways around Dhaka (2nd phase) has started in July, 2007 at a cost of Tk 65 crore and it will be completed by June 2012.
The activities of the project are; dredging of 34.73 lakh cubic meter silt from Ashulia to Kanchpur, digging of 13.35 lakh cubic meter in three canals -- Rampura, Badda and Gubindapur -- establishment of landing facilities at Kanchpur.
A project involving Tk 21.5 lakh funded from the Climate Change Fund is being implemented to clear wastes from the Buriganga. It has started from January 6, he added.
Malek said the BIWTA has submitted a proposal involving Tk 255 crore to clear wastes from the Buriganga and dredging the river.
He hoped that the project will start from next fiscal and continue till 2014.
He said the navigability of the Buriganga will be returned fully as well as it will be a clean river after implementation of the project.
At present, the BIWTA owns seven dredgers, Malek said, adding that 53 of the rivers are transboundary. These rivers carry huge quantity of sediment every year to Bangladesh. A large part of sediment remains in these rivers before they mingle into the Bay of Bengal.
He said the country needs more dredgers for carrying out dredging for removing these huge amount of sediment.
Procurement of three dredgers for BIWTA are under process that will possibly join the fleet early next year.
The BIWTA will also buy 17 more dredgers soon for carrying out capital dredging in all major rivers.
There is no alternative to carrying out dredging for removing sediment as every year 1. 5 billion tonnes of sediment enter Bangladesh while rest of rivers in the world contain 2.6 billion tonnes of sediment a year.
Malek said all rivers including, the Padma, Jamuna and Meghna, contain huge sediment that causes navigability problems.
Due to lack of dredging many of the rivers lost their navigability long ago and now exist as mere canals, he said.
Malek hopes that under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina it would be able to restore navigability and these rivers will get back life once again.
He said 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers of waterways will be made navigable from the existing 5,968 km waterways within next four years.
Quoting a report of the World Bank, Malek said the per tonne-per km transport cost is Taka one for waterways, whereas it is Taka 4.50 for road and Taka 2.50 for railway.
The report also said 12.3 percent of the rural population or 50 percent of the rural household have access to water transports. Moreover, the use of waterways instead of road transport is estimated to save about 58.5 million liters of fuel.