WATER stagnation has been a persistent problem for Chittagong. An hour’s rainfall on Monday, as New Age reported on Tuesday, could halt the city life, causing enormous sufferings to the dwellers. Many areas in the city went under knee-high water. Yet no effective measures have, however, been in place to tackle the situation. The rain also triggered stagnation of water in low-lying areas and caused severe traffic congestion on the roads. The local meteorology office recorded three millimetres of rainfall in all. When a few millimetres of rainfall affected public life in such way, the concern of urban planners about a worsening condition of city roads during the peak monsoon season is not unjustified. The prevailing situation indicates that drains are clogged and fail to serve their intended purpose. All the authorities concerned, especially the city corporation, have a strong role to play in resolve this recurring problem of water stagnation.
The problem of water stagnation and its solution are known to all. Researchers and urban planners have for long named the dump of wastes into canals and drains, illegal encroachment on canals by influential quarters and unbridled hill cutting as major reasons for the problem. The soil loosening during rains fills up drains and nearby water bodies. Many of the 144 canals in the city have lost their original flow because of lack of regular dredging. Besides, solid wastes of all kinds — municipal, industrial and medical — make this situation even worse and cause severe water stagnation. The problem of water stagnation of Chittagong, therefore, has multi-dimensions. The authorities should address all factors that contribute to the water stagnation for a sustainable solution. As the problem is not being addressed on all fronts, the little initiatives that are there fail for lack of coordination between stakeholders. In April, a Tk 5,616-crore project was taken to re-excavate, extend and renovate the canals and to resolve the water stagnation of the city. There has already been concern that the project may not bring the intended results for lack of coordination between the agencies involved. The prevailing situation shows that the city authorities lack the political will to find a sustainable solution to the problem.
All the authorities concerned, under the circumstances, must revisit the existing plans and adopt a multi-pronged, holistic strategy, without further delay, to ensure proper dredging, to re-excavate the canals and to stop illegal hill cutting. In the process, the illegally appropriated and encroached land must be reclaimed and legal action must be taken against those who stand in the way of the development of the city. In doing so, the government must ensure that the implementation process is not disrupted by influential quarters.
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