The initiative was taken a century ago. Chittagong Port Capital Dredging is seeing its implementation so far. And the benefits are coming before the work is completely finished. Navya rose in Karnaphuli river. Various jetties have been activated. There is a crowd of lighters (small ships). Fishing trawlers and boats are now able to unload various products including fish from the crowd at Firingibazar Fishery Ghat. Reduced suffering and transportation costs. Those concerned say that if you want to continue the benefits, dredging should also be continued.
According to sources, several thousand tons of waste from at least 8 canals from ‘Sadarghat to Bakliar Char’ of Chittagong city fell into the Karnaphuli river. Due to this reason, Char wakes up in a large area along the river bank. The 800 meter wide river came down to 400 meters in this section. Due to the loss of the navvy, fish trawlers and cargo ships could not flock to Firingibazar Fishery Ghat. Ships could not crowd Sadarghat lighter jetties. Even under the Karnaphuli Shah Amanat Bridge, the water flow is severely obstructed due to the accumulation of silt. In this situation, the Chittagong Port Authority took the initiative to bring back the Karnaphuli ship through capital dredging. In 2011, it entered into an agreement with an organization named Malaysian Maritime and Dredging Company. The company ran away after two years of operation. They take extra huge amount of money than work. The company sub-contracts the dredging to another domestic company. Even using a 32-inch diameter cutter suction dredger from the Chinese company China Harbor Engineering, the company was not able to dig. As a result, the Chittagong Port Authority canceled the contract in 2013. In this situation, a new survey was conducted with Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET). According to the BUET survey report, there is a layer of polythene up to 13 feet in the river bed. But beyond Buet’s idea, a layer of polythene was found somewhere in the river bed up to 21 feet.
According to sources, later the Chittagong Port Authority took the initiative of capital dredging by the Navy. E-Engineering, a subsidiary of Saif Powertech Limited, works as a partner of the Navy. In October 2018, the concerned wing of the Navy got the responsibility of implementing the project at a cost of Tk 258 crore. According to the agreement, 4.2 million cubic meters of alluvial soil should be extracted from the bottom of the river. Later it was decided to revise the project and extract 51 lakh cubic meters of alluvial soil. In this situation, the project cost has increased to about 300 crore rupees.
After getting the work, the related organizations and institutions will finish the excavation at any cost and go out of their way to give the benefits. They did not want to follow the path of failure of past contracting firms. Therefore, world-famous ISC brand 3 cutter suction dredger, long boom excavator, short boom excavator, floating barge, grab dredger and modern equipment are used in excavation. Excavation is going on uninterruptedly despite the Corona situation. The ongoing dredging project is scheduled to expire in mid-September. 95 percent of the dredging work has already been completed. Those concerned say that due to dredging, Karnaphuli, which was almost dying, has regained its life. The river has regained its normal speed. Navy has increased. 400 meter lighter jetty has been activated. Where 3-4 meters draft or depth has increased. By using these jetties Chittagong port is earning at least 80 crore taka per year. Commercial activities have started at Sadarghat 3 lighter jetty.
Sources also said that hundreds of small and large lighter vessels and fishing trawlers are now anchoring on the river banks due to increased navigation. Fish are being unloaded directly from the trawlers in the new Fishery Ghat area. Where earlier one had to anchor 200-300 meters away from the river bank to land the fish, now that suffering is no more. Hundreds of small traders from Chaktai-Khatunganj are taking goods by sea at affordable cost.
Those concerned say that if the dredging continues, the Karnaphuli river will be saved from flooding. Commercial activities will increase day by day. Capital dredging will also play a major role in waterlogging. Chittagong Port Secretary Omar Farooq told Jugantar, ‘Certainly the port authority has started getting the benefits of capital dredging. The lighter jetties at Sadarghat have become operational. The flow of water under the Shah Amanat Bridge has also increased. Commercial activities have increased due to dredging. But there is no substitute for proper maintenance to keep it going. Polythene and waste from canals should be stopped from entering the river. I know that the Chittagong Development Authority has taken a project for this reason.