Govt determined to save canals, rivers

Light water vessels to ply waterways in and around the capital

The government is determined to rescue Dhaka’s canals and lakes - now either grabbed or filled with soil, solid garbage and other wastages - to bring back their natural water flow and make them appropriate for plying of light water vessels.

To that end, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Local Government Division, Dhaka North and South City Corporations and other concerned authorities are working in a coordinated way in accordance with a master plan approved by the prime minister, sources familiar with the matter said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the master plan to prevent river encroachment and pollution and increase navigability of the rivers around Dhaka including Buriganga, Dhaleshwari, Balu and Shitalakshya. 

All the water bodies including small and big canals and rivers will be freed from illegal encroachment and necessary steps will be taken to increase the water flow in line with the master plan, authorities concerned said.

“We will work with LGRD ministry and other stakeholders in a coordinated manner to make rivers and canals pollution-free. If the work is done according to the master plan, there will be an opportunity of operating small boats through the waterways (canals and rivers) in and around Dhaka,” State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said on Thursday.

“Concerted efforts of all the stakeholders could make it possible to ensure normal flow of waters in canals and river and stop all sorts of pollution”,the state ministertold journalists while inspecting the construction project of setting up boundary pillars around Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers.

Khalid also complained that they did not get expected support from Dhaka City Corporations and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) in the last one and a half years in this regard.

However, he praised the incumbent Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayor for taking a strong stance against canal encroachment and river pollution.

Meanwhile, LDRD MinisterMdTajul Islam recently said in an interview, “We are working in line with the master plan to increase the water flow and free the canals from illegal occupation. From now onwards, we will not allow any bridge that will disrupt the natural flow of water.”

“Many people talk about building bridges at low cost. In many cases, the width of the canal is reduced from both sides due to narrow and low-cost bridges. The premier also gave her consent that no bridge will be allowed to build disrupting normal flow of canals,” he added.

In the meantime, two city corporations in Dhaka, of late, have expressed their willingness to increase water flow in drains and canals in Dhaka. 

“All the existing drains under the city corporation will be wider and there will be no more waterlogging. We will connect all of our drains with canals through big drains, and canals will be connected to the rivers with a view to ensuring uninterrupted water flow”,DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said in this connection.