Global Voices

Hell on Earth in Chittagong: Floods Wreak Havoc in the City

"The waterlogging in Chittagong has worsened today. It seems nobody cares. God save everyone."

Screenshot taken from YouTube.

Heavy rains plagued Chittagong, last weekend, a major coastal seaport city and financial center in southeastern Bangladesh, disrupting the day-to-day lives of its citizens. Almost half of the city became waterlogged in the past week, after incessant rain and tidal surges flooded the city: roads lay under knee-deep to waist-deep water, houses and offices flooded, electricity lines were disrupted. It was overwhelming for local residents and there seemed to be no respite. Some used social media to share images of the “hell” they were living through.

The Chittagong Patenga Meteorological Office recorded 200.6 mm rainfall over a period of 24 hours until 3 pm on Sunday, 23th of July, 2017. Moreover, the spillways of the dam at Kaptai lake were opened after excessive rain filled up the lake and poured into the Karnafuli river that runs through Chittagong, causing the water level to rise. Heavy rainfall and tidal surges also continued on Monday and is reported to continue until Tuesday.

The two port city commodity centers, Khatunganj and Chaktai, which house about 3,000 businesses and more than 5,000 warehouses, remained submerged in up to 5-feet of water since Sunday. Businesses suffered heavy losses as most of their stocks were damaged. The Geological Survey of Bangladesh in Chittagong, has asked people living on hill slopes to move to safer places for fear of landslides.

Waterlogging is a persistent problem for the port city in the past few years, occurring whenever there is excessive rain. Experts blame the waterlogging on the breakdown of the city's drainage system due to mismanagement and a lack of coordination between the concerned authorities. Furthermore, many of the canals which crisscross the city, have been clogged with garbage, sediment, and unplanned building development limiting the flow of water during monsoons.

People shared images of the recent floods on social media:

Chittagong under water. The old areas of Chandgaon at this moment!

Why does Chittagong go under water whenever it rains heavily?

This video uploaded to YouTube by Mohammad Salah Uddin & Rezuanul Islam Shaikat shows the water receding:

The Chittagong tax office (Zone 4) has bought a boat for its officials to commute through the streets during the recent rains, as the water can often be waist-deep in many places.

Fardin Hossain uploads another video on YouTube:

Dr. Anjan Kumar Das, a medical professional, writes on Facebook:

চট্টগ্রাম আগ্রাবাদে জলাবদ্ধতার অবস্হা আজকে ভয়াবহ আকার ধারণ করেছে। মনে হয় দেখার কেউ নেই। সৃষ্টিকর্তা সকলকে রক্ষা করুন।২৪.০৭.২০১৭।

The waterlogging in Agrabad, Chittagong has worsened today. It seems nobody cares. God save everyone. 24.07.2017

Mahbub Arif Kintu writes on blogging platform Amarblog:

অতিবৃষ্টির কারণে কাপ্তাই জলবিদ্যুৎ প্রকল্প যেন হুমকির মুখে না পরে তাই প্রতি সেকেন্ডে ৬২ হাজার কিউসেক পানি কর্ণফুলী নদীতে ছাড়া হয়েছে সেই সাথে সৃষ্টি হচ্ছে কর্ণফুলীতে উর্দ্ধমুখী সাগরের জোয়ারের পানির চাপ, পাহাড়ি ঢল ও জোয়ারের পানিতে টইটম্বুর চট্টগ্রাম শহর। [..] টানা বর্ষণে প্রতি বছর চট্টগ্রামের পাহাড় ধ্বস এখন বর্ষাকালে একটি নিত্য দিনের ঘটনা হয়ে দাঁড়িয়েছে, বিকল্প নিজস্ব জায়গা না থাকায় ঝুঁকিপূর্ণ ওই পাহাড় নীচেই হারিয়ে যাচ্ছে শতশত প্রাণ । প্রশ্ন করি চট্টগ্রাম কি এতটাই অবহেলিত, সামান্যতম করুণা দেখাবার কি কেউ নাই ?

চট্টগ্রাম আজ বহু বছর উন্নয়নের প্রতিশ্রুতির উপর নির্ভর করে আছে, চট্টলা বাসী আজও সেই দুর্ভোগ থেকে মুক্তি পায়নি, প্রতিশ্রুতির উপর খুব বেশীদিন বেচে থাকা যায় কি?

To save the Karnafuli Hydropower Station from rising water level at the Kaptai lake, 62000 cusec water was withdrawn via the Kaptai dam spillways into the Karnafuli river. Add to that the tidal surges from the sea and the excess water from the mountain streams. And that's how most of the Chittagong city was submerged. [..] Landslides due to excessive rain has become a special feature of the monsoon days in Chittagong. As people are not being moved to safer places, many lives are being lost. Can I question is Chittagong this much neglected? Will nobody do anything to stop these?

Chittagong is living up to false promises of development for years. The citizens have not relieved from these miseries. Can people live long depending on empty promises?

Originally published in Global Voices.

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