The authorities are considering pipelines to carry water from the River Meghna to quench the manufacturing thirst of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar – the country's largest industrial city in the south-eastern swathe.
The pipelines will supply 900 million litres of water per day from the estuary of Padma-Meghna-Dakatia to the industrial city against an estimated demand of 1,013 million litres a day.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the plan on 31 August, as Chattogram Wasa and Korean Taeyoung Engineering & Construction Co Ltd will begin a feasibility study soon, according to Chattogram Wasa Managing Director AKM Fazlullah.
Wasa's initial survey marked two potential routes for the pipelines. The first one comprises a 126km stretch from the estuary to Ramgati, Feni and Mirsharai. The second probable route is 132km long, which is planned parallel to the existing rail route – from the estuary to Chandpur, Laksam, Feni and Mirsharai.
"Chattogram Wasa and Korean Taeyoung Engineering & Construction Co Ltd will implement the project under public private partnership as the cost will be around Tk10,000 crore," Maqsood Alam, chief engineer of Chattogram Wasa, told The Business Standard.
He said implementation may take five to seven years.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar is being constructed on about 33,000 acres of land at Mirsarai and Sitakunda upazilas of Chattogram and Sonagazi upazila of Feni. The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) is implementing the project.
So far, 159 domestic and foreign companies have invested around $2,000 crore in the industrial city. Several companies at the industrial city, such as Asian Paints Bangladesh Limited, McDonald Steel Building Products of Bangladesh and Nippon Steel Corporation of Japan, have recently gone into production.
The daily demand for water in this huge industrial city is projected to be 1,013 million litres. However, there are concerns among entrepreneurs about the availability of water. Some factories have even installed deep tube wells on their own to extract groundwater in order to start production.
Initially, Beza planned to supply 154 million litres of water per day from River Halda to the industrial city. However, the plan was later scrapped in the face of increasing salinity in the Halda.
Later, Beza set a target to extract 50 million litres of water per day by installing 50 deep tube wells. But the plan could not stand out too as environmentalists expressed concern over the depleting level of the groundwater.
According to the initial survey of Chattogram WASA, there is a huge reserve of freshwater in the Padma-Meghna-Dakatia estuary in Chandpur from where around 200-400 million litres of water can be extracted per day.
Chattogram Wasa officials said the pipeline route will be finalised after the feasibility study. They said some areas around the pipeline would be connected to the water supply network of Chattogram Wasa.
Chattogram Wasa Managing Director AKM Fazlullah said, "We have plans to connect several areas such as Hajiganj, Laksam, Feni and Baroyarhat to the water supply network while constructing the pipeline."
Shaikh Yusuf Harun, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, said Beza has zero involvement in the supply project, as it is only concerned with the availability of water.