URBAN planners fear that water stagnation in Dhaka city will continue this year as well unless effective measures are taken by city authorities to permanently address the problem. Experts say Dhaka’s drainage capacity has not improved because authorities have failed to recover illegally seized water bodies and restore the drainage network. When southern and northern city authorities took over the maintenance charge of 26 canals from the water supply agency on December 31, 2020, city officials gave assurances that people would not be not face water stagnation in 2021. Water stagnation, however, persisted. In such a situation, the authorities of the southern city now say they do not have the capacity to completely solve the problem, but hope that the water stagnation will not persist any longer due to some short-term measures. term they took. The northern city authorities, however, say there is no chance of water stagnation in areas under their jurisdiction as they have taken adequate measures. Such statements by municipal authorities are hardly reliable.
The southern city authorities say they have identified 125 points under their jurisdiction and have started working on a “short-term” plan by spending Tk 1.75 billion to reduce water stagnation. They also say they plan to work on 10 new spots they have identified. Authorities also say they have drawn up a plan to clean up rubbish and dig canals in Jirani, Manda, Kalunagar and Shyampur. They say, however, that long-term solutions are needed, suggesting that “short-term” measures are not effective. The northern city authorities have, according to official records, also taken “short-term” measures such as constructing drains, installing pipelines and developing roads to reduce water stagnation. Northern city officials say they have worked on 42 points to fix the problem, hoping to drain water from submerged areas within two hours. Authorities are also said to have set up rapid response teams in 10 areas to evacuate water if needed in the event of stagnant water. All of this discussion of “short-term” measures underscores the glaring lack of effective and sustainable long-term measures to combat water stagnation. The failure of the municipal authorities is evident in the fact that in the nearly a year and a half since they took over responsibilities for the canals from the water supply agency, no visible progress has been made in efforts to put an end to stagnant water once and for all.
In 2021, the two Dhaka city authorities gave an excuse for their under-preparedness saying that they did not have enough time to complete the drain improvement works after taking over the maintenance channels. The lack of preparation seems to still largely persist. It is therefore time for the city authorities to stop talking loudly and refrain from working effectively to end the stagnation of water through the implementation of all measures – in the short, medium and long term.