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Surma dredging at a snail’s pace

Dredging work going on in the Surma River in Sylhet city

Posted on May 27, 2024

The Surma river dredging project has not seen significant improvement in work in the wake of allegations of irregularities against the authorities concerned.

Local people and environmental activists have raised allegations of irregularities against the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).

The dredging project aims to protect Sylhet city and its adjacent areas from flooding.

The BWDB, however, claimed that the dredging project has seen over 60-percent progress and the remaining work would be completed by June.

Sources said it is almost impossible that 60-per cent progress in the project has been achieved in 17 months.

They have alleged the project has failed due to proper plans, adding that a big amount of Tk 500 million (50 crore) is being spent on drain.

Meanwhile, the SCC authorities claimed that they were not even known about the matter although the project was taken up for saving the city from water stagnation and flooding. In fact, the project was designed after some ministers as well as the PM visited the region two years ago after the severe flooding hit the city too.

Amid a drastic fall in the Surma River’s navigability, floods submerge half of the city areas, inundating many people.

Locals and experts have stressed the need for dredging the river. As a result, a 15.05km dredging project was undertaken.

But, now SCC officials think that the project would not bring any benefit to the city-dwellers.

SCC chief executive officer Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said the BWDB didn’t consult us about the Surma river dredging.

The BWDB started the project work in January 2023 with a target to complete the task by June this year.

The authorities claimed that 60-per cent work on the dredging project was done, shoals on the Surma riverbeds were emerged months ago.

Many apprehend that the dredging project may not give any benefit at all.

Contacted, Khushi Mohan Sarker, BWDB chief engineer for northeast region, claimed today that the dredging had been hampered due to the accumulation of huge polythene and plastic goods on places.

“We’ve already engaged 7 dredgers for expediting the work,” he added.

Sylhet BWDB executive engineer Dipok Ranjan Das said, “We’re trying our best to complete the project work in time (by June).

The dredging work of 11km Surma River is completed, he said, adding that it (dredging work) was now going on at Alampur, Kanishail and Tukerbazar Ghashitola areas.

BELA Sylhet region Coordinator Shah Shaheda told this correspondent that the project is unplanned as the problem of water stagnancy or flooding can’t be resolved by dredging only 15km on the middle of the river ways. For increasing the navigability or to raise the water flow, there should be a programme to dredge on the river’s starting point on Amolshid border.

The Surma river and its tributaries should also be dredged for a longtime solution, she added.

Professor Zahir bin Alam of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology said waterlogging may come to an end to some extent after implementation of the river dredging project.


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