Mongla-Ghasiakhali channel opens at last


Saturday, 09 May 2015

The 31-kilometre river route between Mongla and Ghosiakhali has
re-opened for vessel movement after a gap of five years. The artificial
route is a short river channel that provides access to the Mongla Port. A
total of 90 eight-feet draft vessels crossed the channel till yesterday
evening since the channel is opened on Wednesday, MA Motin, chief
engineer (dredging) of the BIWTA told The Independent yesterday.

The Mongla-Ghasiakhali river route, has been defunct since 2010.
Movement of vessels was also stopped because of a high degree of
siltation, which has made the river non-navigable. The artificial
31-km-long route was constructed and opened by the Bangladesh Inland
Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) in November, 1973, to maintain the
link between Mongla sea port, Khulna and Noapara with other parts of the
“We have allowed to ply 8-feet draft ships during high tide
on the Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel from Wednesday. The navigability of
the channel has increased after its dredging.
The dredging work of
the channel is still going on,” Mohammad Hossain, Director (Marine
Conservator and Traffic) of the BIWTA, told The Independent yesterday.
Hossain, who issued a circular on the movement of vessels also suggested
that vessel operators operate their ships with high alert to avoid any
incident with the dredgers deployed in the channel for dredging
However, the BIWTA officials are very concerned over
maintaining the navigability of the channel due to the rapid development
of huge silt. “It would be difficult to keep the navigability of the
channel if the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) does not open
the canals linked with the channel,” MA Motin, Chief Engineer (Dredging)
at BIWTA, told The Independent.

The channel needs to increase the
tidal basin in order to keep the channel navigable, he said, adding, “we
are concerned over developing the navigability as well as maintaining
the channel. It depends on the local initiatives and BWDB”.
has taken up the Mongla-Ghasiakhali river channel dredging work at a
cost of Tk 250 crore, a priority project of Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina, in order to remove 100 lakh cubic metres of silt from the
channel and restore its navigability,” he added.
According to
sources, the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) is carrying out
dredging at four canals to drain out the water from polders. The
dredging is not being carried out at the Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel in
order to increase its tidal basin.
“We are dredging four canals as
per our project concept. Polder water will be drained out through these
canals. We are not dredging the canals to increase the tidal basin of
the Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel,” Mohammad Mainuddin, Executive Engineer
of the BWDB in Bagerhat district, told The Independent. “If the
ministry directs us, the mouth of the canals will be opened for the
channel,” he said in response to a query.
According to the CEGIS survey, the BIWTA had conducted dredging for two and half months in 2010 and for two months in 2011.
dredging works yielded discouraging results. Both monitoring results
show that the riverbed had silted up due to sedimentation, as water was
being indiscriminately drawn using pumps, and had led to a reduction in
tidal volume because of human intervention.
But the refilling rate in
2011 was found higher than the dredging in 2010. While the, the dredged
channel filled up within three months in 2010, it took only 30 to 40
days in 2011. The government has expedited the dredging work of the
channel, after a tanker, OT Southern Star 7, carrying 357,668 litres of
furnace oil, sank in the Shela at Mrigmari area in the Sundarbans after
being hit by a cargo vessel on December 9 last year.