Two studies commissioned by the government recommended restoration of rivers, canals and wetlands for addressing the perennial drainage congestion faced by the capital and the contiguous districts of Gazipur and Narayanganj.
In their study reports, the Centre for Environmental and Geographical Information Services and the Institute of Water Modeling recommended following the Cadastral Survey done during the British rule for the restoration of the rivers, canals and wetlands.
A cabinet committee on housing ministry assigned CEGIS and IWM to recommend drainage improvement for incorporation into the capital’s Dhaka Structure Plan for 20 years ending 2036.
The Dhaka Structure Plan is under preparation by Rajuk as validity of the capital’s Detailed Area Plan, better known as DAP, expired last year.
Both the studies recommended widening flood flow zones in the capital and the two contiguous districts keeping buffer zones on both banks of the rivers, digging more connecting canals, renovating and protecting existing canals and water bodies as the CS and Revisional Surveys show.
The studies say that 50-metre to 400-metre buffer zones on both the banks of rivers would facilitate uninterrupted flood flow run off keeping the capital’s drainage undisturbed until 2036.
CEGIS conducted the study relating to next 20 years’ drainage for the western part of the capital while IWM study covered its eastern part.
The Structure Plan is under preparation by the Rajuk on the projection that by 2036, the capital’s size would grow to 1,620 square km and its population to 30 million.
CEGIS and IWM submitted their study reports to an inter ministry committee headed by housing minister Mosharraf Hossain in June.
To ward off rapid encroachment of natural drainage channels the studies recommended banning development activities which could affect the rivers, canals and the wetlands.
The studies pointed out that filling-up of countless wetlands including at Ashulia, Banasree, Aftabnagar, Bashundhara, Meradia, Baunia, Badda, Amin Bazar and Hatirjheel increased water logging across the capital.
The capital’s drainage improvement would require restoration of at least 12 out of 44 canals on the western part and 10 out of 49 canals in the eastern part, say the studies.
CEGIS recommended keeping 350-metre to 400-metre buffer zones on both the banks of the Turag River, 50-metre to 150-metre buffer zones on both the banks of Buriganga and 50-metre to 100-metre buffer zones on both banks of Bangshi River.
CEGIS deputy executive director Malik Fida A Khan called for banning all development activities in the buffer zones to facilitate unhindered flood flow runoff.
He said that buffer zones must be created to reduce the impact of another flood of the magnitude of 1988 recurring.
‘We are not discouraging urbanization, our point is that it should be done in a planned way,’ he added.
Rajuk chief town planner Md Sirajul Islam told New Age Tuesday that cabinet committee praised the study reports and called for its reflection in the structure plan under preparation.
The cabinet committee, he said, asked for undertaking more thorough studies to find out the existing length, width and depth of the rivers and canals and what they should be.
The terms of references for such studies are under preparation, he said.
Environmentalists said the government was wasting time and money on studies showing little interest to implement them.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan joint secretary Sharif Jamil said that the nation would get the desired results only if the government cared to demarcate rivers as the High Court Division had ordered.
In 2009, the High Court Division directed the government to restore four rivers around the capital after correctly demarcating their boundaries.
The government was also asked to remove all illegal structures from river lands.
In May 2010, Appellate Division upheld the High Court order.
In July 2014, the apex court again upheld its earlier order asking the government to remove all structures illegally set up encroaching upon Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakhya.
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