The fall of water level in the Kaptai Lake, the largest manmade lake in Bangladesh, and emergence of shoals in it are creating various problems, including the suspension of transportation and decline in production in the hydroelectric project.
The movement of launches in the lake remained suspended for the last several days due to its poor navigability, causing indescribable sufferings to two lakhs people of the district, officials said.
They said the Kaptai Lake was built over the Karnaphuli River as part of the Kaprai Hydroelectric power plant project in 1960. After its opening, it became the source of livelihood of local people through fish farming, river communication, irrigation, tourism and others.
Locals said no step was taken to dredge the lake in the last 59 years for improving its navigability despite their repeated demands.
During a recent visit to the Kaptai lake area, the UNB correspondent found a number of hidden shoals emerged in different parts in Naniarchar, Baghaichhari, Longdu, Barkal, Jurachhari and Bilaichhari upazilas of the district.
The drastic fall of water level in the lake is disrupting communication between the district headquarters and its upazilas. However, Rangamati Launch Owners Association have been providing services through engine-run small boats.
Besides, the production in Kaptai Hydroelectric plant has declined due to the fall in water level.
The authorities concerned of the power plant have been producing 110 MW of power through a rationing system from the 230-MW capacity power plant.
ATM Abjjur Zaher, project manager of Kaptai Water Power Plant, said the water level in the lake has dropped sharply. “Currently, there has been 80.16 points of water in the lake instead of 83.80 MSL (Mean sea level) and 110 MW power of is being produced through three units from the existing five units by rationing system.”
He said this situation will remain unchanged until there is adequate rainfall.
Moin Uddin Selim, president of Rangamati River Transport Owners Association, said launch movement in the Kaptai Lake remained suspended since Monday, causing immense sufferings to local people.
Commodore Mahabubul Islam, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), said the disruption in the movement of launches in the lake is unfortunate.
He stressed the need for dredging in the lake for improving its navigability saying that no dredging work was carried out in it since its construction in 1960.
AKM Mamunur Rashid, deputy commissioner of Rangamati district, said, “We’ve sent a letter to the high officials concerned demanding capital dredging of the lake. Already, a BIWTA delegation has conducted a survey in this regard.”