Take proactive steps against water logging

Publish: 4:15 PM, February 27, 2019 | Update: 4:15:PM, February 27, 2019

One may recall in the eighties and even in the nineties that Dhaka city used to acquire an almost flood like appearance even after heavy rains for about an hour or so. At that time, accumulated rain waters in places such as Mouchak, Malibag and other heavily populated places of the city remained stagnant for days that made commuting through them a very difficult exercise. Pedestrians and ones in rickshaws faced worse experiences.
But thanks to a previous Awami League led government, conditions turned significantly better as that government sincerely worked to improve the city’s drainage conditions. The lasting effects of works undertaken at that time seemed to be providing benefits to the city’s residents. However, it seems that drainage may again become a big problem for the city and urgent attention needs to be given to this issue. This was manifest last week when some showers were noted in the city last week—after a pause of several months— which created some water logging in some thoroughfares in the city. This phenomenon was seen also towards the end of the last rainy season. It was widely recommended at that time that the government should waste no time and utilize the opportunity presented by the coming winter or dry season to embark on a crash programme to improve drainage conditions in the city. It was predicted that in the absence of such a crash programme, Dhaka could face catastrophic water logging in the next rainy season. It appears that this prediction could well be fulfilled as last week’s rains clearly highlighted that hardly worthwhile steps were taken during the last six months especially with an eye to substantially improve drainage conditions in the city as preparation for the full fledged onslaught of the rainy season.
Internationally received short and mid term weather forecasts for Bangladesh and South Asia is not a favourable one. Heavy rains are projected in the monsoon period for South Asia and Bangladesh might have to bear a brunt of it. Thus, people in Dhaka city have reasons to be worried about their daily transportation related and other ordeals in the coming rainy season.
As it is, the waters in the rivers in and around Dhaka are now at a safe level. But the water levels in the rivers are likely to rise if heavy rains fall on the city in line with the weather forecasts or more flood waters appear from upstreams. In that case without an efficient and workable drainage system in place , a worst city flood is portended this year.
Thus, the authorities need to take timely actions to spare the city’s residents from the great distresses caused by worse water logging or city floods. Box culverts that drain rain and sewer waters in many parts of the city remain in clogged conditions from all kinds of waste matters and rubbish which get dumped in them. Manhole covers are to be found missing in many areas that similarly facilitate solid wastes to get inside the sewer lines to create blocking effects.
The manhole covers need to be refitted immediately and the maintenance of manholes should be ensured along with the thorough cleaning of them. The entire lengths of the surface drains and storm sewers should be immediately flushed clean . Sufficient number of pumps should be installed in different parts of the city for the pumping out of rain and flood waters. These preparations need to be taken on high priority basis.
There existed some 43 natural canals and hundreds of large and small ponds and marshlands or wetlands in and around Dhaka even in the early seventies that worked as a very effective natural drainage system. All out efforts must be launched to recover these natural draining grounds from their unauthorized occupiers under a crash programme.