12 Dhaka canals in death throes

At least 12 canals in capital Dhaka are set to disappear under the very noses of the authorities concerned.

Besides, the remaining 26 canals, where Dhaka WASA is in charge of maintenance, are under threat of being grabbed amid the unabated dumping of solid waste.

Influential people and encroachers in the name of different government and non-governmental organisations have built large infrastructures and even roads on canal lands.

Most of the canals’ natural flows have almost come down to a trickle. And the canals connected to the rivers surrounding Dhaka are polluting these rivers.

The situation of the Dhaka canals have been revealed in a report of a high-level government committee submitted at the last meeting of the inter-ministerial task force on river protection.

Concerned people said that as the canals are not fully operational, waterlogging is occurring in the capital when there is moderate or heavy rain. 

According to the meeting of the task force, it asked the city corporation to take steps to free the canals from illegal occupation and stop dumping of garbage in the canals and rivers.

Besides, it was decided to form a joint committee of 7 agencies and administration under the leadership of local government division to survey the canals again.

Asked about this, Secretary at the Ministry of Shipping, Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury told the media, “A report on the canals of the capital has been placed in the meeting of the task force. The report will also be sent to the concerned agencies. Then it will be understood how many canals are under the supervision of which organization.”

He said it has been decided to continue the ongoing measures taken to prevent the encroachment and pollution of the canals.

The National River Protection

Commission (NRPC), Dhaka District Administration, Dhaka WASA, Department of Environment and BIWTA are members of the taskforce committee.

According to the report of the committee, there are no specific authorities for maintenance of 12 canals.

These are: Gobindpur Canal, Old Gabtali Canal, Rayerbazar Canal, Narinda Canal, Dholai Khal, Jalkuri Canal, Shampur Canal, Kadamtali Canal, Aftabnagar Lake, Gazaria Canal, Atir Canal and Ranavola Canal. All the canals are on the verge of extinction due to grabbing and pollution.

Besides, some 26 canals controlled by WASA are also under occupation and pollution. The list of encroachers includes various individuals and organisations including city corporations, hospitals and housing companies.

According to the report, although there is no listed grabber in Abdullahpur canal located in Uttara, the northern part of the canal has been filled through dumping of solid waste.

The flow of Baishteki canal in Mirpur is active. But the water is severely polluted for the dumping of household garbage.

Infrastructures have been built on some parts of Baunia canal in Mirpur.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DSCC) has constructed footpaths and drains occupying several places of Begunbari canal in Hatirjheel-Gulshan area, the report said, adding, “Sewage stations and roads have been constructed in place of the canal. However, the canal is still in operation.”

Devdholai canal located in Demra area extends from Sanarpar to Manda area. DSCC has built a road occupying the bank of the canal.

The report also said, Eastern Housing and Ramakrishna Temple have been constructed by occupying Digun Khal in Goran area. The inner part of the embankment of Hazaribagh canal has been occupied. It has been turned into a garbage dump. 

Although there is some illegal occupation in Ibrahimpur canal, it is still active. The city corporation has built a road by occupying one side of Jirani canal in Mugda. 

According to the report, buildings and other establishments have been constructed occupying most of the area of Kalyanpur-1 canal. This canal has become inactive. City Corporation has constructed a road occupying several parts of Kalyanpur-2 canal.

Besides, GTCL roads, truck stations and temporary markets have been set up by occupying different parts of Kalyanpur-3, Kalyanpur-4, Kalyanpur-5 and Kantasur canals. 

Moreover, the drainage system in Ramchandrapur area is being disrupted due to Mohammadpur Housing and Mohammadia Housing while Jack’s Dairy Farm and ULAB University occupy the junction of Ramchandrapur and Kantasur canals.

Asked about this, Dhaka WASA Managing Director Engineer Taqsem A Khan told Bangladesh Post, “Seven organisations including Dhaka WASA, Water Development Board and City Corporation are in the management of the canals. Dhaka district administration is the owner of these canals while city corporations are responsible for waste management. So all the responsibility cannot be imposed on Dhaka WASA.”