It is summer time and monsoon is only a couple of months away. However, a number of brief showers in recent weeks gave strong indications that the city dwellers are unlikely to get any respite from the problem of severe water-logging in the come monsoon also.
Residents of many areas of both old and new parts of the city will be forced to wade through knee- to waist-deep water following moderate to heavy rain in the monsoon period.
A brief shower measuring only 33 mm on April 05 last put many roads under knee-deep water in Mirpur and some parts of central Dhaka. Many low lying residential areas were also submerged.
The mayors of two city corporations have talked a lot about their efforts to get the city rid of water-logging problem. But until the last monsoon, the talks proved to be hollow as the problem persisted.
In some parts of the city, roads are being dug to lay large concrete pipes to flush out rain water. This type of projects was taken many a times in the past. But money invested in those, in most cases, had gone wasted as the underground drains became clogged due to deposition of sand and mud.
To get the city rid of water-logging problem it is important to clean both surface and underground drains regularly. In addition to that, the city must have a network of canals, natural or otherwise, that can carry both waste and rain water unhindered to the nearby rivers. All combined can be termed an efficient drainage system.
But is it practically possible to ensure such a system now in Dhaka city? If not fully, the objective can be met, at least, partially.
Admittedly, finding a solution to the water logging problem in some areas is really difficult, if not impossible. A proper solution would require demolition of buildings, markets and infrastructures built on the natural canals and even on wide surface drains built by the city corporations. The job of demolition of those infrastructures would not be easy. The illegal occupants, in most cases, are either politically influential people at the local level or local goons. They would move heaven and earth to stop any official move to dislodge them from their illegal occupation.
Most natural canals of Dhaka city do not exist anymore. Their recovery is almost impossible. The Dhaka South City Mayor some weeks back promised to restore some of the canals to their old state. Nothing, however, is heard about it lately.
In fact, it is none but the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) is responsible for the recovery of natural canals and eviction of the unauthorised occupiers. But this organisation maintains a very low profile and does not carry out even many essential tasks relating to the city's water-logging problem.
Had the DWASA been alive to the problem of water-logging, it would have opposed grabbing of many water bodies in and around Dhaka city. The country's higher court has delivered a landmark judgment on the BGMEA building in Hatirjheel.
But what is happening to the largest water body, locally known as Bhasantek beel that lies between Dhaka cantonment and Mirpur. Scores of commercial and residential buildings have sprung up in the heart of the beel, officially known as Shaheen Lake, during the past four to five years. Even the National Housing Authority, a government agency, has taken up a project to build a few multi-storied residential buildings there. Local people are concerned that once the beel is filled up there would be no place to discharge rain and waste water of Mirpur area, making its problem of water-logging far more serious.