The major canals in Sylhet city including Malni Chhara, Kalibari Chhara, Mangari Chhara, Dhopa Chhara, Balaram Chhara are turning into waste destination for a long time. The canals are playing a vital role in the city’s sewerage system. They should be kept clean and free so that their natural flow is not impeded. But the city corporation failed to take necessary measures to protect them.Some City dwellers alleged.
The Gaviar Khal is one of the oldest canals in the Sylhet city. Ornate “naiyuri” boats carrying newly-wed brides used to cruise the canal, creating dancing waves and captivating the people. Its splendour was even more extended with exceptional scenic beauty and lush green surroundings.
But these all now turned into mere stories as a good portion of the canal, stretching about 5km, has been swamped by garbage. Added to that is the illegal occupation.
, too, undergoing the same fate.
During a recent visit to the canals, this correspondent found them filled with waste materials like plastic bottles, bags and other household trashes.
Abdul Karim Kim, general secretary of Sylhet chapter of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), said, “The canals are playing a vital role in the city’s sewerage system. They should be kept clean and free so that their natural flow is not impeded. But the city corporation failed to take necessary measures to protect them.”
Karim also demanded that SCC campaign for making people aware against the occupation and dumping of waste, saying that raising awareness and designating the dumping spots would cost less than taking mammoth projects to protect the canals.
Denying the allegation,
However, Ariful Haque Chowdhury, suspended mayor of Sylhet City Corporation (SCC), who is now in prison, started taking massive initiatives to recover them in 2014. He even launched speedboats after cleaning the Gaviar canal and reclaiming the parts occupied by the grabbers. But within a short time, the scenario turned out to be the same as before since the initiatives were stopped after the arrest of Ariful, according to the city corporation.
Enamul Habib, SCC’s chief executive officer (CEO), said, “As part of those initiatives, we completed the dredging and excavation work in the canals and put up retaining walls in five of them after reclaiming the canals from the grabbers.
“In an attempt to protect them, we already submitted a comprehensive plan to the parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry, which initially approved the plan. We are optimistic about getting the plan passed in the forthcoming fiscal year…,” added Enamul.
Faruk Mahmud Chowdhury, president of Sylhet chapter of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN), claimed, “The SCC’s initiatives were a gimmick because they were undertaken without heeding the real problems.”
“Protection should be a continuous process. If the cleaning work remains halted, even for barely six months, and the authorities do not look after the canals, they return to the worst state as they have been,” he added.
About land grabbing, Karim alleged that SCC deliberately leaves establishments of some of the grabbers unscathed while conducting eviction drives.
“Partiality of this sort must be stopped, and a fair, continuous and environmentally conducive drive ought to be undertaken instead,” he urged.
the CEO said, “We admit that there are thousands of illegal structures erected on both banks of the canals,” adding, “Our drive is going on against all the grabbers regardless of who they are, and none can enjoy any favour or impunity.”