Tk 4,000 crore project to dredge 7 rivers

The government has decided to dredge seven rivers to improve their navigability, including reviving six moribund rivers, at a cost of Tk 3,964.17 crore. These moribund rivers are the Dudhkumar, Dharla, Punarbhaba, Showa, Old Bramaputra and the Tulai. Besides, the Burishwar river will be dredged to improve its navigability for the Paira sea port as per the Prime Minister’s directive. The project will be implemented in Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Sherpur, Dinajpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Patuakhali districts. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) will implement the project in six years from 2017-2023.
Shipping secretary Ashok Madhab Roy yesterday gave the ministry’s consent to implement the project. Under the project, the dredging will be carried out for 605km out of a total of 705km of the seven rivers. A total of 900 lakh cubic metres of silt will be removed from the seven rivers. Of them, the BIWTA dredgers will remove 70 lakh cubic metres and private dredgers 700 lakh cubic metres, while 130 lakh cubic metres will be removed by excavators.
The minimum depth of the rivers Dudhkumar, Dharla, Punarbhaba, Showa, Old Bramaputra and the Tulai is now between -0.5 metre and 2.5 metres. The required depth should be between 2.5 metres and 5 metres to keep the rivers navigable during the dry season, according to sources in BIWTA. “Farmers cultivate paddy beside the Punarbhaba, Showa, Dharla and the Tulai rivers during the dry season. If the rivers are dredged, people of these areas will get relief from the damage caused by floods,” Saidur Rahman, superintendent engineer of the BIWTA, told this correspondent.
Besides, there will be no water-logging after the dredging is completed, he added. “Farmers living near the rivers will able to irrigate their farmlands from the river water during the dry season. Besides, the dredging project will boost regional and sub-regional trade,” he said.
Currently, only a few trawlers and boats ply on these rivers during monsoon, the BIWTA superintendent engineer said, adding that larger vessels, boats and passenger launches would be able to operate once the dredging is done.
Explaining that the project will be implemented from the government’s funds, Saidur Rahman said capital dredging would be 770 lakh cubic metres and maintenance dredging would be 648 lakh cubic metres.
The Bangladesh Army will establish a cantonment near the Burishwar river and they have already acquired 1576.62 acres for this purpose. The Army has requested the BIWTA to undertake a dredging project near the proposed cantonment so that the acquired lands could be developed through dredge spoils, the BIWTA sources said. It would also help increase the depth of the Burishwar rivers and its waterway for smooth movement of vessels to the Paira sea port.