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Encroachment and siltation: Karnaphuli loses 500-metre width in 22 years

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 23rd May, 2022 10:16:25 AM
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CHATTOGRAM: The Karnaphuli River in Chattogram district has lost an average of 500 metres in width due to encroachment and siltation in the last 22 years.

The Shah Amanat Bridge over the river is also under threat due to the increase in depth on one side of the upstream.

At a press conference at Chattogram Press Club on Sunday, the environmental group 'Karnaphuli River and Canal Protection Movement' said this while revealing the findings of a survey they conducted on the river's depth and encroachment on both sides.

The survey was conducted from March 1 to April 30 this year by Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) Civil Engineering Department Professor and Road Communication Specialist Dr Swapan Kumar Palit, Karnaphuli researcher and Freedom Fighter Professor Dr Idris Ali, and Marine Specialist Professor Noman Ahmed Siddiqui.

According to the report, the width of the river was 930.31 metres in 2000, which has reduced to 410 meters currently. So, an average of 500 metres in width has disappeared in the last 22 years.

Experts also feared that the south side of the Shah Amanat Bridge could collapse due to siltation on one side and the gradual shifting of soil on the other side.

The survey found the normal flow of water in the stretch of the river in Char Patharghata, middle of the river, and Firingee Bazar Bridge Ghat areas for regular dredging.

But, at just 500 metre upstream from the area and some 300-feet from the actual boundary on north of the Chaktai canal, the depth of the river was found only two feet, 13.6-feet on the middle and 48-feet near the South bank.

Moreover, the depth at the middle of 500-feet upstream from the previous area and at the mouth of Rajakhali canal on the North side, is only four-feet. But, the depth of the river along the third pillar of Shah Amanat Bridge is 60.9 feet.

The survey further showed that the depth between pillars 1 and 2 on the north side of Karnafuli Bridge was supposed to be 25 feet as per the measurements of Firingee Bazar area, but the current depth at the spot is only 7.7 feet.

In addition, the depth between the 2nd and 3rd pillars was supposed to be 36 feet. In fact, an island has developed in between the two pillars.

On the other hand, between the pillar 3 and 4 of the bridge, the normal depth was supposed to be 38 feet, but the current depth has increased to 64.7 feet while 78.6 feet between the pillars no 4 and 5 on the South bank against the normal depth of 28 feet.

The researchers laid emphasis on recapturing the encroached area from the both banks, capital dredging in a coordinated plan and efforts to resist the pollution.

Karnaphuli Researcher Professor Dr Edris said, “Something bad is waiting for us in the future if we don’t become aware now.”

The river will dry up if the siltation and dumping of garbage continue, he feared.

At the press conference, among others, Marine Specialist Professor Noman, Professor Pradeep Kumar Das, Professor Janardan Banik, Advocate Selim Chowdhury, SM Peer Ali, and Zafar Ahmed were present.