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Why do cities flood whenever it rains

Editorial  Desk

Editorial Desk

Tue, 11 Jun 24

Previously, newspaper headlines would read: "Chittagong submerged after a day's rain," "Sylhet city flooded after a night's rain," "Dhaka city inundated after a day's continuous rain." Now, it doesn't even take a whole day of rain. An hour of rainfall is enough to flood the cities. This year, the monsoon hasn't even started in full force. Yet, with the occasional rain we’ve had, reports of flooding in the three major cities have already come in.

From a news report published yesterday, Monday (June 10), it is learned that Sylhet city has flooded again after a week's rain. Earlier, the rain on May 29 had caused flooding in 10 upazilas and the city of Sylhet. This time, the rain on Saturday night (June 8) has once again submerged many areas of the city. Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital and Sylhet Agricultural University area were also submerged. This time, it rained for three hours, from 9 PM to 12 AM, with almost 220 millimeters of rainfall. Additionally, there was runoff from the hills. It is unfortunate that a city could flood so quickly despite this.

Sylhet might have flooded due to runoff from the hills, but why does Dhaka city flood with just a little rain? Cities are usually built in relatively protected areas. Urban areas should not flood unless a riverbank breaks or water overflows. However, even with a little rain, our three major cities are flooding mainly due to waterlogging. The reason for waterlogging is the lack of a well-planned drainage system. Twenty to thirty years ago, these three cities had numerous canals and drains. Even after a week of rain, there were no signs of flooding. Water would quickly drain into the nearby rivers. But now?

In these three cities, the population pressure has increased many times over. However, instead of providing proper housing arrangements, numerous obstacles have been created. Many canals have been completely filled in, and many are partially filled with garbage. The drainage system is also extremely fragile. The drains along the main roads of these three cities are often filled with garbage. It's not just the citizens who are to blame; city planners are also responsible. Why haven't they enforced measures to keep the drains clean? If necessary, laws should be enacted to ensure the city is kept clean. In Dhaka's metro rail, you hardly ever see any extra papers lying around. So why is there so much garbage in the buse stations? Why can't the city authorities manage this? Isn't it a lack of will rather than a lack of resources? How much extortion is collected from bus stations every day, and whose pockets does it end up in? Surely, the city authorities are not unaware of this.

Actually, due to our lack of will, nothing good is happening. Everyone has the idea that things are just as they are and will continue that way. What will happen if you suffer for two days! People don't talk much about these issues, and the government doesn't seem bothered either. If not, how do people tolerate the annual flooding in these three major cities? Have they accepted it as fate?

We should strongly demand that the drainage systems of every city in the country, including Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet, be improved. The canals and drains around the cities should be dredged so that water can quickly flow into the rivers during rainfall. The government should be responsible for ensuring that even a little rainfall does not lead to such chaos in these three cities.

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