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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05DHAKA3249
2005-07-11 09:01:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Dhaka
Cable title:  

FIRST RAINS BRING FLOODS TO BANGLADESH,

Tags:  EAGR EAID ECON ENRG SENV TPHY BG BGD 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS DHAKA 003249 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON ENRG SENV TPHY BG BGD
SUBJECT: FIRST RAINS BRING FLOODS TO BANGLADESH,
PREPARATIONS DEEMED INADEQUATE




1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Despite record-breaking floods during last
year's monsoon season, national and local Dhaka governments
appear ill prepared to prevent floods this year. Prime
Ministerial promises not-withstanding, media and BDG sources
report that water pumps have not been upgraded or serviced,
solid waste was not removed, drains were not cleaned and
illegal structures were not cleared in advance of the summer
rains. The recent heavy rain, first of the season, has
already resulted in severe flooding and the displacement of
thousands of people. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) Several decades ago, the international development
community provided technical and procurement assistance to
the Bangladeshi government to build dams and install pumps
designed to prevent the regular floods Dhaka experiences
during the monsoons. Since then, poor maintenance of these
systems, inadequate urban planning and intense population
pressures, have led to the return of the annual summer
floods.



3. (U) This year, though the rains came late, the floods came
early. With the first heavy rain, canals in some areas
reportedly rose up to four feet above their normal level.
Most of the less water-logged areas drained within a few days
but some areas were still under significant amounts of water,
almost a week later.



4. (SBU) As of June 20, newspapers were reporting that WASA
(Water and Sewage Authority) was planning to move up to 15
temporary water pumps to the Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra area
(DND), one of several locations that flooded badly in last
year's monsoon. As of July 3, when the first heavy rains of
this summer began, these pumps had not been installed.
Sources at WASA confirmed July 7 that five of these pumps had
only just arrived in DND, and an additional eight had yet to
be delivered by the Water Development Board (WDB). None have
been installed.



5. (SBU) Newspapers reported that after two days of recent
heavy rains, "tens of thousands" of residents were marooned
in DND, leaving boats as the only means of transportation
through the streets and that many residents fled to stay with
relatives in other parts of the city. No deaths have been
reported. Despite the flooding, WDB's Executive Engineer
Mohammad Alauddin maintains that the situation was 'still
under control.'



6. (SBU) Superintendent Engineer for WASA, Kamrul Chowdhury,
explained that the pumps were brought to DND only
temporarily, despite a perennial need, to prevent their theft
if left unattended. Even during the flood season, when need
is at its height, piping and parts are taken from the
unguarded machines. Chowdhury reported that WASA had applied
for Japanese development agency funding for an additional
permanent pump in the Dhoikal and Khaliampur areas of the
capital and to the World Bank for two additional permanent
pumps in Rampura and Kamalapur neighborhoods of Dhaka.



7. (U) The lack of adequate permanent pump facilities is only
one element causing the flooding. Debris in and around
drains, which are only sporadically cleaned, blocks the
drains, sewers, and draining areas leading to pumps. Much of
Dhaka's wetlands, which would provide natural drainage, have
been filled in for buildings and roads due to an influx of
people into the city. Illegal structures block water flow
into those rivers, wetlands and canals that have not been
filled in or paved over, further compounding flooding
conditions.
CHAMMAS