From the Editor-in-Chief: Citizens’ miseries in the monsoon

Enayetullah Khan
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
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Every monsoon is a fresh new remembrance for all of us of what our urban planners have not been able to do. In these past many days, with rains lashing the country, urban centres like Dhaka and Chittagong have taken the brunt of nature’s beating. Of course, the monsoon season has always been part of life for us and an integral part of our cultural heritage. We do not complain, for rain has always been a spur to our poetry and our music.


But in the instances of the country’s two major cities, one of which is the chief port city, the rains have for the last many years been a hindrance to regular, normal movement on the part of citizens. To be sure, one does not blame the rains here. What we are pointing to is the perennial water-logging that has placed lives in peril in Dhaka and Chittagong. It is a problem which has its roots in the fact that the drainage systems in the two cities have as good as vanished. With the growth of the two cities into vast metropolises, developers in the case of both homes and business centres have shockingly spared little thought to the need for a system that will carry away rainwater after every downpour.


It was not like this before, in the 1960s through the mid-1980s. No one complained of streets and roads and markets disappearing under sheets of water. Today, conditions are different and certainly horrific. Supermarkets and malls have made sure that drains do not exist or do so in a way that is hardly of any help to citizens. In residential areas, drains that were made decades ago have fallen into disuse or have become clogged or have been lost under mounds of pavement. The situation calls for a questioning of urban planners in our times. Why have they not been able to ensure that no business or homeowner can go into building without taking cognizance of public welfare?


That said, there is the matter of the authorities — and there are so many of them — undertaking the job of installing underground cables and pipes and refurbishing roads all in the monsoon season. One wishes it were a mere coincidence, but having observed the situation for years, one is surprised that such a condition persists and no one is there who will take the steps needed to correct things. Meanwhile, it is citizens who suffer. There is water-logging and there are the many instances of road excavation. It cannot be called planning under any circumstance. It is well-organised chaos.


Must we live through such agony for years on end?

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