Life was miserable for Sylhet residents due to the heatwave for more than a week. Everyone was impatiently waiting for the rain. But then, when rain came at midnight on Saturday, the relief did not last long as most areas of the city were submerged in just one and a half hours of rain.
Water entered houses and shops, which added to the sufferings of residents of the city who had just been through devastating floods.
Such waterlogging occurs quite often and locals blamed unplanned development activities of the Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) and not cleaning the garbage accumulated in drains after floods for the frequent waterlogging, even after a small rain.
The SCC took up at least five projects and spent crores of taka in the last few years in reviving the canals and renovating the drainage system to alleviate the flooding of Sylhet city. But questions have arisen about the benefits of these projects involving such a huge amount of money.
According to the SCC, there are 11 small and large canals, with their branches flowing through the city, altogether about 110 kilometres, which then merge with the River Surma. There are also 970 kilometres of drains in the city for rain and flood waters to recede.
Rajan Das, Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture at Leading University, said the drains in the city were built very narrowly. The canals are filled with garbage. As a result, water cannot flow. The authorities should regularly monitor whether or not the water is going down through the drain.
From 2016 to 2019, several projects were implemented to resolve the waterlogging issues in the city by spending Tk236.
In 2019, Tk1,228 crore was allocated for a project taken up to solve waterlogging and ensure clean water supply and infrastructure development. So far, Tk269.5 crore has been spent on this project.
In recent times, Tk293.59 crore was spent in FY21 and Tk298.47 crore in FY22.
In the current fiscal year, 327 kilometres of drains and eight kilometres of retaining walls are supposed to be built as part of a project involving Tk366.46 crore.
In July, when heavy rains inundated most areas of Sylhet city, SCC Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said the water of the Surma is above danger level owing to which the rainwater is not drained through the canals.
But this time the river water is far below the danger level.
In this context, SCC Chief Engineer Noor Azizur Rahman said that the water receded after the floods last month but there are layers of silt inside the drain. Besides, people throw litter indiscriminately. As such, water cannot recede through the canals.
"We have taken initiatives to clean the drainage system. City dwellers should also be aware. Garbage should be dumped in designated places. No garbage can be thrown in the drains," he said.
"We put nets (mesh) at the mouths of the drains so that garbage does not accumulate inside the drain, but those nets were removed by locals. If there was a net, the water would have gone away, the garbage would have been stuck," he said further.
He claimed that waterlogging is now less of a happening than before. Even if the water is stuck for a while, it quickly subsides after the rain stops.
However, Farooq Mahmud Chowdhury, President of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik, questioned the transparency of these projects and said that there should be no more flooding in Sylhet if things are done properly and transparently. But despite the huge work, there is no transparency and no plan. As a result, money is being spent, but the sufferings of city dwellers have gone on.