Thursday, 28 October, 2021

Resolving waterlogging problem: Wasa projects in limbo

Two big projects undertaken by Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to resolve a longstanding problem of waterlogging in the capital have remained stuck due to non-cooperation from the ministry concerned.

Sufferings of city-dwellers have mounted high as torrential rain over the last three days has submerged many streets, lanes and by-lanes due to the failure in timely implementation of the projects.

Dhaka WASA officials blamed the Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Ministry for the prolonged crisis.

The projects were supposed to be completed very soon, but lack of cooperation from the ministry to allocate money and acquire land is the main reason for a delay, WASA officials said.

The two projects are Expansion of Drainage Networks and Development of Canals Project in Dhaka City with a budget of Tk 550 crore and ‘Land acquisition, excavation and re-excavation of Hazaribagh, Baishteki, Kurmitola, Manda and Begunbari canal’ at an estimated cost of Tk 645 crore .

The projects aimed at getting three million people of Dhaka city out of waterlogging by extracting to canals through linking networks and widening, excavation and re-excavation of canals.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the projects in April 2020 and May 2018. The projects were supposed to finish in December 2020.

But, a WASA monthly report said the land acquisition and canal development project and the Expansion of Drainage Networks and Development of Canals progressed only one percent and 25 percent respectively.

Project director of Expansion of Drainage Networks and Development of Canals Project in Dhaka City Shawkat Mahmud said the government has released only Tk 80 crore in two years.

“The government did not allocate money properly for that it made less progress. If they allocate money we can complete it within a year,” he said.

“The WASA planned to expand drainage to extract rainwater into canals. We are working for two zone areas, comprised of 16 thanas in the capital, including Mohammadpur, Kalyanpur, Uttara, Abdullah, Dhanmondi and Mirpur out of 13 flood management zones under the projects.”

“We’ve worked in only Dhanmondi and Mirpur areas and residents of Kazipara and Shewrapara are reaping the benefit of the project,” he added. Around 16 canals, including Katasur, Kalyanpur, Baunia and Ramchandrapur, were re-excavated under the projects, he added.   

Abdul Waset, project director of the canal excavation, re-excavation and land acquisition project, said the WASA could not acquire land from land ministry and Dhaka DC office.

“Around 87 percent money will be spent on land acquisition for the five canals, but we are yet to acquire.”

He also said not a single canal was excavated under the project as land acquisition is needed for all of five canals as there has problem in CS and RS recorded of the land.

Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operative Minister Tajul Islam said the statement of WASA officials about negligence of fund release may not true.

“I can say after checking the matter of what happened actually,” he also said.