Khulna town protection dam under threat

Published : 05 May 2019 04:02 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 10:20 AM

 Constant erosion by Bhairab and Rupsha rivers and tidal surges has done extensive damage to Khulna town protection dam threatening existence of large number of business shops, offices and residential houses that are all situated just at a stone’s throw from these two rivers.

In October in 2013, a part of the dyke near Roosevelt jetty collapsed being severely hit by constant tidal surges. Moreover, several big cracks have occurred in three-kilometer-long dyke that has been under great pressure of strong currents and high tides of the river Bhairab and Rupsha.

Some people also illegally built bamboo platforms on the embankment extending in the river, and erected shops on those, causing further damage. The disjointed blocks are being stolen too, by junkies and sneak thieves, alleged local traders.

President of Khulna Dhan-Chaul Businessmen Association Munir Uddin Ahmed said, “Most of the encroachers belong to both Awami League and BNP illegally started erecting structures on the emerging char lands since 2003.  Moreover, effluents thrown from mills and factories and the excreta coming from large number hanging latrines are dangerously contaminating river waters.”

Works for implementation of Khulna town protection dam began during 1993-94 fiscal year with financial assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Secondary Town Integrated Flood protection project.

The project worth Tk 38.9 crore was implemented under the supervision of Khulna office of Water Development Board (WDB)-2 and included construction of a three and a half kilometer long dyke with the installment six regulators.

It aimed to save Khulna Jail, General Hospital, Boro Bazaar, IWTA terminal ghat, Roosevelt Jetty, Ansar Flour Mill, Khulna Shipyard, Dada match factory, official bungalows of Divisional Commissioner, Khulna range DIG, Deputy Commissioner (DC) and Police Super (SP) from erosion by the Bhairab and Rupsha  coastal rivers. Boro Bazaar is a busy and bustling commercial area at the mouth of the Khulna Town Protection Embankment. It was built during the British period.

The project works were completed in 1998 two years after the stipulated time as specified under terms and condition of tender schedule. Faulty design, use of low quality materials during construction, negligence in maintenance work and illegal grabbing of char lands are the causes of developed cracks and grown potholes, local experts claimed.

Abdul Mannan, a businessman of Boro Bazar, said that he would shift his 45-year old shop elsewhere fearing loss of life and lives of his salesmen because of erosion by the river Bhairab.

President of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Kazi Aminul Haque said that over 1,000 shops of Khulna Borobazaar being threatened which may be swallowed by erosion of Bhairab River. He urged the government to take prompt measures to save the Khulna city as well as business hub from the erosion of the coastal rivers Bhairab and Rupsha.

Executive Engineer (Maintenance and Operation) of Khulna-2 office of WDB Palash Kumar Banarji said, “The concrete blocks and metal nets that kept bricks fixed to the embankment is also found damaged at several points. The nearby slums have also played role in the damage of the embankment.”  

Palash also expressed fear that the rise in water level of River Bhairab and Rupsha in the upcoming rainy season may create a severe threat to the town protection embankment. However, he said, steps are being taken to sort out problems with the dyke and make it sustainable. He further said the arrangement for the fund is uncertain as the higher authorities did not assure them of allocation of new fund the rainy season.

Convener of Khulna Nagorik Samaj Advocate AFM Mohsin said, “The Khulna town protection dyke could collapse into the river anytime, resulting in the city being flooded with the water of the Bhairab.” In the circumstances, he urged the government to come up with a permanent solution to the problem, instead of wasting money for the sake of repairing the hard point every year.