After the deadline was extended four times and the cost soared by Tk181 crore, a project to divert the Jamuna and flush out pollution from Dhaka's toxic River Buriganga is scheduled to complete in June this year, say authorities.
With an initial three-year deadline, the government commissioned the project at around Tk944 crore in 2010 to revive the River Buriganga – the lifeline of the capital Dhaka – by diverting water from the transboundary River Jamuna to flush out the pollution that has turned the river into a stagnant sewer.
The work involves dredging a 162 kilometre-long channel from the Jamuna to the River Buriganga. The Jamuna is part of the River Brahmaputra that flows through Tibet and India before spilling into the Bay of Bengal.
The water will be diverted from the Bangabandhu bridge point of Jamuna along the Dhaleswari-Pungli-Bangshi-Turag-Buriganga system.
The implementation hit a stumbling block in 2011 as Dhaleswari siltation choked the project progress, forcing the implementation agency Bangladesh Water Development Board to figure out the alternatives. Meanwhile, the work deadline was extended until June 2015.
The Water Development Board moved for the construction of a guide dam and a sediment basin to strain out the sediment letting clear water into River Pungli.
The acquisition of 85 hectares of land for the basin and guide dam delayed the project further, pushing up the cost to around Tk1,125 crore from initial Tk 944 crore. The deadline was extended to 2020, and further to 2022, said Sirajul Islam, executive engineer of the Water Development Board (Tangail).
Sirajul said another obstacle of the project was illegal sand lifters from the river who would bar the project staff from river dredging.
Some of the project staff said the sand traders threatened burning the dredgers if the excavation continued.
Sirajul said the local lawmaker had to rope in to resolve the problem.
"Everything now looks smooth, and I hope the work will be completed on time," he added.