Disputes delay city canal restoration

Strategic planning required to save waterbodies

Published : 14 May 2022 09:42 PM

It is discouraging to note that authorities concerned could not yet determine boundaries of 26 canals inside the city even in one year of taking charge. We have come to know that eviction activities will begin in full swing after demarking the boundaries.

Though it seemed to be a daunting task to recover the capital’s lost canals and many other wetlands, government’s strong political commitment can spur hope towards reclaiming them. Gone are the days when Dhaka had around 58 canals and lakes and wetlands and was surrounded by four rivers. The major part of Dhaka’s drainage system consists of canals, rivers and lakes that help reroute extra water out of the city. 

Appropriate legal actions against land grabbers are 

a must for recovering the occupied land and water bodies

However, due to rapid urbanisation coupled with the negligence of urban dwellers, Dhaka has lost almost all of its water bodies over the years. Now, only 26 canals exist in reality in a moribund condition and most of them have lost their water flow. According to experts, the main reasons behind disappearance of canals are illegal grabbing by influential quarters  and dumping of massive quantities of solid waste and garbage from the surrounding neighbourhoods

Both city corporations took over the responsibility of the existing canals on 31 December 2020. Although 14 months have passed since then, the boundaries of 26 canals located in two city corporation areas have not yet been determined. 

However, after taking charge, the two city corporation authorities have started cleaning the canals to evict the illegal structures along the canal and bring back the flow of water. 

City authorities must devise necessary action to save the canals and wetlands in the capital from encroachment. It needs no emphasising that water bodies of the capital must be recovered for ensuring natural balance and protecting environment keeping pace with development and urbanisation. We have made mistakes in the way we treated our water-bodies so far. We must not continue to make those mistakes in future.

What is desired now is a concerted and well-deployed move fuelled by adequate allocation of resources to save the waterbodies. Appropriate legal actions against land grabbers are a must for recovering the occupied land and water bodies.

The two city corporations need to devise a master plan to reclaim the canals. Practice of waste dumping in canals must be stopped in no time. Last but not least, necessary steps should be taken so that new installations could not take place filling up canals.