Dhaka canals in dire straits

Strategic planning required to save the waterbodies

Published : 26 May 2023 07:38 PM

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. 

Due to rapid urbanisation with taking little care of unavoidable environmental and public health consequences, Dhaka has lost almost all of its waterbodies over the years. 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. Over the years, Dhaka has lost almost all of it. Now, only 26 canals exist in reality in a moribund condition while most of them are under threat of being grabbed amid the unabated dumping of solid waste.

Needles to say, all kinds of wetlands in the city are disappearing or shrinking rapidly. As a result, temperature is rising at an abnormal rate. Reportedly, many areas of Uttara, Khilkhet, Mirpur, Bosila, Banasree and some other areas of Dhaka city have been developed in the last few years by filling up wetlands. Even some of the areas have been entirely developed by filling up wetlands fully.

Waterbodies of the capital should 

be revived for ensuring natural 

balance and protecting environment 

keeping pace with development

 and urbanisation

Experts are of the opinion that the main reasons behind disappearing of canals are illegal grabbing by influential quarters, creep of construction and dumping of massive quantities of garbage from the surrounding neighbourhoods.

It is time that the government takes a serious approach to save the canals and wetlands in the capital from encroachment. We have made mistakes in the way we treated our waterbodies so far. Let us 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. 

Also, the city corporations and the WASA need to collaborate and devise a master plan to reclaim the canals. A new law should also be enacted to take stern punitive actions against the land grabbers. Practice of wastage dumping in canals, lakes and rivers should be stopped. Besides, steps should be taken so that new installation could not take place filling canals. Waterbodies of the capital should be recovered for ensuring natural balance and protecting environment keeping pace with development and urbanisation.