Due to sincere effort of any government, the lower part of 30-kilometre-long dyke-cum-bypass along the Turag and Balu rivers on the eastern fringe of the capital are being grabbed by vested groups
Zahid Hossain Biplob: The eastern bypass project approved since 20 years but still there is no visible progress to make the said by project due to sincere effort of any government which has brought artificial crisis on the issue of water logging for a shower of rain apart from rainy season.
Local people said if the project implement, water logging and flood problem will resolve. People of the area are severely suffering since long for water logging during the rainy season. Local people urged the government to implement the project soon to relief the inhabitants from water logging as well as flood.
Due to delay in implementing the project, thousand of land grabbers are randomly filling up the lower areas on the eastern side of the capital, people claimed adding the authorities concerned have no concern regarding this matter.
Project director Akhil Kumar Biswas yesterday told Daily Industry that in fact there is no progress of the project still and there is no possibility to start the project soon. Sources said, the fate of the Dhaka Integrated Flood Control Embankment-Eastern Bypass Road Multipurpose Project or the Eastern Bypass Project seems uncertain due to unavailability of funds.
The 30-kilometre-long dyke-cum-bypass along the Turag and Balu rivers on the eastern fringe of the capital project got the government’s approval in 1999 with a cost of Tk 2,475 crore.
After that, an initiative was taken in 2001 to implement the project on the river Balu but all efforts went into vain for soil problem.
Heavy flood during 2002 to 2004 in the eastern part brought the issue again which ended through decision to upgrade the project.
However, an UK based company, the Halcrow Group Ltd and its associates took the charge for further advancement of the project in 2006 but it failed due to unknown reason.
The bypass project was planned to encompass124 square km fast growing urban and semi-urban areas between Tongi Railway Bridge and Kanchpur Bridge. Without the eastern bypass, a vast area remains unprotected from recurring floods, said a WDB official.
Water Development Board (WDB) officials said over the years, they had to revise the massive project several times to reduce cost. “In inter-ministerial meetings, the higher authorities expressed doubt about availability of about Tk 2,667 crore for the project, and asked us to revise it again and again,” said a top WDB official on the condition of anonymity.
He said that around a decade back, an inter-ministerial meeting decided to shelve the project on grounds which are not materialising for available fund.
Official sources said failing to find a financier for the project, the government had earlier asked the WDB to break up its components and distribute those also among Dhaka City Corporation, Rajuk, Department of Environment, and Roads and Highways Department for implementation.
A top source of the WDB however said the Eastern Bypass Project has been dropped from the government’s priority list with Capital River Dredging mega-project replacing it.
Besides protecting a vast area from floods, the project was meant to help expand the city and divert east and south-bound traffic from northern region of the country.
WDB Chief Engineer, Akhil Kumar Biswas said work on the bypass project first began with the help of the Engineering Corps of Bangladesh Armed Forces in 1998.
Thousands of landowners and real estate developers are now haphazardly filling up the low- lying areas on the eastern side of the capital, sources said.
Commenting on this issue, environmentalists and urban planning experts, the bypass’s construction work is vital to consider the environmental aspect and keeping provision of waterway for boats to row through the different canals and maintain a link with the rivers.
Dhaka Integrated Flood Control Embankment-Cum-Eastern-Bypass Road Multipurpose Project did not keep any scope to maintain the waterway till the Balu or other rivers, though some canals at the eastern fringe are maintaining the waterways. If the design of the project is not changed, like the western part, mouths of all the canals will be blocked, which still have links with the Balu and Shitalakhya rivers.
Prof Nazrul Islam, former professor of economics, Dhaka University said the eastern bypass should not be constructed as a cordon; instead, it should be constructed with adequate passages left for water to pass between the city and the river.
Due to the delay of the bypass construction, people are suffering and housing projects filling the canals and water bodies in a rapid way. So, the government should recover and protect the canals strictly and develop the eastern side of the capital in a hydro-ecological way, connecting the bypass with the canals
Experts pointed out the eastern bypass should be evaluated in terms of environmental compliance, and suggested protecting all the water bodies of the eastern side during the construction and creating retention pond areas by purchasing sufficient land.