The residents of Chittagong city have been suffering a lot as there is no respite from the perennial water-logging in the port city due to illegal encroachment of different canals and water bodies.
Many parts of the city were inundated during the light rain triggered by torrential rain or tidal surge, causing untold sufferings to the people.
Some 39 canals are disappearing gradually while twelve are said to have completely disappeared in the last 46 years due to illegal occupation by land grabbers, said a recent survey conducted by the City Corporation, Local Administration and Land Office.
Besides, many water bodies and canals are shrinking due to unplanned development, causing water logging in the port city during rain.
A recent survey revealed that the land grabbers are involved in occupying land by filling up water bodies and canals. The Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) itself and some housing companies are allegedly involved in constructing buildings, educational institutions and business establishments illegally.
The authorities concerned of the city corporation failed to take any initiative yet to restore the canals.
According to the survey, the joint team have identified 2221 people and enlisted their names for illegally occupying 39 canals but the CCC would not take any steps yet to evict them from illegal occupation.
Prof M Ali Ashraf, former chairman of Chittagong Engineers’ Institute and an urban planner, said the CCC had made a master plan on drainage system in 1969.
An American organisation conducted a survey on 50 canals of the port city, financed by Public Health Engineering Department. They made a map of 34 canals from Patenga Naval Academy point to Kalurhat Bridge in the southern parts of the city, he said.
In 2017, a Netherland based organisation conducted a survey for making a master plan on the drainage system. During the survey, they found the existence of only 22 canals out of 34 while the remaining 12 canals disappeared though the existence of 34 canals are found on the RS, CS, PS land record, said Prof Ashraf.
Some 139 illegal establishments were constructed on the 22 canals by filling up some portion of them, he said.
Contacted, Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin, said “The illegal establishments will be evicted with the help of local administration and the Department of the Environment. Already a list has been made of illegal encroachers and there are some complexities on the list. The authorities are trying to remove the complexities at first.”
Talking about the complexities, the CCC Mayor said the authorities concerned found some difficulties over demarcating the canals occupied by the grabbers. “Once the problem is solved the eviction drive will be conducted. None will be spared and all canals will be restored,” he said.
The most important canal of the city is the Chaktai Canal, which is occupied by 48 land grabbers as already 82 percent of the canal is occupied by the grabbers, he said.
High rise buildings, business establishments and dwelling houses were established in the area, he added.
Besides, a joint survey conducted by CCC, local administration and Sadar Circle Land office, made a list of 2221 grabbers for occupying 16 main canals including Shital Jharna, Mariam Bibi, Hijra, Monohar, Nasir, Chashma, Jamalkhan, Gupta Chhara, Deb Pahar and Gulzar canals.
Wishing not to be named, an officer who took part in the joint survey, said some government establishments were under the list and list was made according to the Bangladesh Land survey.
On January 5, the Prime Minister Office sent a letter about the current situation of the canals of the port city. According to the letter, signed by Dr Dewan Mohammad Humayun Kabir, severe water logging situation prevails in the port city due to construction of many establishments after occupying canals illegally, causing untold sufferings to the city dwellers. Following the issue, the authorities concerned have been asked to submit a detailed report about the illegal encroachment.
Abdus Salam, chairman of Chittagong Development Authority, said “We have sent a master plan to the government and the work will start after getting approval.”