Chittagong City Corporation has spent an amount of BDT3.04 billion in the last 14 years to end waterlogging in the city. Even then the whole city goes under water during every rainy season. A promise to overcome waterlogging was given before the city corporation elections. But the city dwellers could not get rid of the problem to date.
The mayor has not undertaken any long-term project to bring an end to waterlogging permanently. AJM Nasir Uddin, the mayor of Chittagong City Corporation, has already finished two years of his five-year tenure. He has not yet undertaken any new initiatives to solve the waterlogging problem either. The canal digging project approved in 2014 to clear waterlogging has not been started yet though.
The Chittagong mayor said, "The development work of three organizations is going on simultaneously in the city. Excavated soil with construction debris falls in the canals and stops the water supply due to rain. Besides, the CDA has blocked a drain in Bahaddarhat to build the pillars of a flyover. They did not even bother to inform the City Corporation. Waterlogging is due to these reasons. We have been trying desperately to keep the waterlogging at an acceptable level. A project undertaken with the coordination of WASA and Water Development Board to prevent waterlogging permanently is awaiting approval. Former mayor of Chittagong City Corporation, Mohiuddin Chowdhury, spent BDT660 million during his last tenure. From 2010 to June of 2015, BDT2.5 billion was spent by his successor Manzur Alam. The current mayor, AJM Nasir Uddin, has spent BDT110 million in the financial year 2015-16. Tenders for 89 projects in the 2016-17 financial year have been floated, which will cost BDT1.1 billion. Despite spending millions every year, the people of the city complained, they have not been benefitted much.
In this context, city planner and architect Zerina Hossain said, “Routine work will not be enough to solve the waterlogging problem. It requires a long-term big project with the coordination of all related agencies. Otherwise, benefits will not be available even after spending millions every year.’’ The six-kilometer long Chaktai canal is the main drainage path for one part of the port city. Nine more canals have been linked to this canal. These are: Dom canal, Chashma canal, Hijra canal, Chatteshwari canal, Mirza canal, Sub area canal, Dev hill canal, Ayesha Khatun Lane canal and Manu Mia canal. Due to heavy rainfall, these canals cannot manage the excessive water flow resulting in waterlogging and flood-ing.
It was found that most of the Chaktai canal is filled with polythene and waste, according to city corporation sources. Shops have been built on the feeder canals. There are hundreds of houses including multistoried buildings, slums, and semitiled houses on both sides of the canals. Household waste and junk from these buildings are thrown into the canal. Now it has basically turned into a junkyard. This situation arose due to the callousness of city dwellers. Although the work of removing garbage started in March, only 25-30 percent of the work has been completed. Apart from this, connecting canals are also filled with garbage. Because of no dredging or digging, Rajkhali canal is totally choked. Locals complained that the City Corporation has never done any excavation work from the middle of the canal to Rajakhali. Maheshkhal is full of garbage. Mirzakhal, Birkhal, and Bamunshahi canal are also choked with trash.
The new canal excavation project from Bahaddarhat, Baroipara upazila to the Karnaphuli River was approved in June 2014 to end waterlogging. The BDT3.27-billon project will expire by June this year. But the City Corporation could not even start the work of acquiring land for the canal. Chief engineer of Chittagong City Corporation, lieutenant colonel Mohiuddin Ahmed said, “Since the cost of land acquisition has increased two or three fold, the project is being revised and will be sent to the ministry. Minor changes will be made to the alignment due to a graveyard and mosque. The work will start when the revised project is approved.’’