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The perils of navigating Mongla-Ghoshiakhali channel

  • Published at 11:05 am July 31st, 2017
  • Last updated at 04:09 pm July 31st, 2017
The perils of navigating Mongla-Ghoshiakhali channel
Navigating the Mongla-Ghoshiakhali channel, the connecting route to Mongla port, has become perilous in recent times due to excessive silt deposits. Sources at Mongla port say ship captains find it difficult to steer through the channel because of sand bars and sedimentation. Talking to the local administration, our correspondent has discovered six main challenges to meet in order to bring the channel back to its original state. The first challenge is to dredge the 83 branch canals and rivers of the channel, which have been illegally occupied by the local shrimp farmers. According to sources, over 1,200 embankments of the canals were recovered from the illegal occupants, who used to farm shrimps in these canals, by providing them with 900 tons of rice through a “food for work” programme. But some influential locals had reoccupied those canals and started farming shrimp again due to lack of monitoring. The dredging projects have already cost the government more than Tk300cr. The second challenge is to remove the sluice gate in Daudkhali river which has been obstructing the free flow of water from the channel. The third challenge is to abolish the fishing nets in the branch canals installed by the shrimp farmers. These nets have been obstructing the free-flow of the water. The fourth challenge is to manage adequate disposal sites for the dredged sediments.

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The fifth challenge is to dredge out the sediments which have already been disposed from Joykha point to Mogla port along the channel. The last challenge is to maintain sufficient funds for continuing the regular dredging activities. Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) sources said currently a total of seven dredgers are working for the overall management of the channel which was opened on May 6, 2015. Around 60,000 thousands vessels have used the channel since its inauguration, the sources added. Coastal Alliance for Environment Protection’s convener Advocate Shah Newaz Ali told the Dhaka Tribune that a set of proposals had been submitted to restore the channel. “There is a crisis for sediment disposal sites and so, we have proposed building a dike inside the Mongla EPZ area for the removal of silt,” he added. The 31km-long Mongla-Ghoshiakhali international naval route was first opened in 1974. The channel was closed in 2010 as 22km of it was silted up. The vessels were using Shela river as an alternative route since then. The government has decided to resume the channel after an oil-tanker sank in the Shela river in 2014. The channel has reduced the overall distance to 81km.
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