Grabbed water bodies must be restored
Illegally occupied lands in canals and rivers in and around Dhaka City should be returned to the water bodies immediately, failing which would threaten the very existence of the 400-year-old city, environmentalists warned yesterday.
They were speaking at a press conference, organised by Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan (Bapa) at Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
The environmentalists also called for an autonomous body that would coordinate the projects of Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa), Dhaka City Corporation, Water Development Board and district administration, meant for reducing water-logging.
Proposing that the theme of the 400th anniversary of Dhaka City should be protecting its water bodies, Bapa President Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said, "We're talking about climate change and its impact on nature, but we do not see what we have done to our own city by damaging its drainage system."
He said the uniqueness of Dhaka had been its canals, but unplanned development and excessive greed of some developers have made many of the canals non-existent, causing miserable water-logging.
"Water-logging would be longer, rendering the city unliveable if we don't save the rivers and canals in and around the city," he said.
Taking a swipe at Dhaka residents, Prof Muzaffer said they do not feel the throes of the city. The residents should speak out and put pressure on the government to act, he said.
Drainage system covers only 60 percent of the city, leaving the other parts to canals and other sources, former chief engineer of Dhaka Wasa Kazi Muhammad Shish said. "But we've filled up those canals, which has created water-logging."
Saying some 27 canals out of the city's 36 have been filled up, he said the city could well be abandoned soon if the canals are not restored immediately.
There is also no plan to protect the wetlands where the canals and the city drainages empty into, he added.
Bapa Joint Secretary Iqbal Habib said, "Dhaka remains waterlogged for 12-24 hours with only 50 mm of rain. If immediate actions are not taken, water can stay for up to 60 hours.”