Abnormal water reduction in Kaptai Lake disrupts communications and power generation

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News Desk

In the absence of rain during the ongoing dry season, the water level in Kaptai lake in Rangamati has gone abnormally dry due to intense heat waves. Due to lack of water, many shoals have arisen in different parts of the lake. Passenger launches plying in five upazilas of Baghaichhari, Langadu Jurachhari, Bilaichhari and Barkal upazilas along with Rangamati Sadar have been completely stopped. As a result, passenger and goods transportation has become difficult.

Due to the difficulty of transportation of people and goods by boat in the upazilas, the price of daily necessities has increased. People have to walk a long way to reach their destination. In this dry season of intense heat, there is a shortage of clean drinking water in the hilly areas. They have to walk several miles to collect drinking water. Residents who depend on the lake are suffering.

Local residents said that they are facing extreme difficulty in communicating with the district headquarters as the water in the lake has dried up. Numerous diverse and dunes have risen on the lake. Having to walk a few miles to come to Naughat passengers and goods are being transported by small engine boats. Still, the boats got stuck after Shuvlong. It takes 5 to 6 hours to travel 2 to 3 hours.

The leaders of the Rangamati Launch Owners Association said that water communications with 5 upazilas have been stopped due to drying up of the lake water.

Meanwhile, it has been reported from the Kaptai hydroelectric power plant that the water level in the lake has now gone down a lot. As the navigability of the lake has decreased, the drying up of the lake has also reduced the production of Kaptai hydroelectricity.

The world’s longest artificial Kaptai lake with an area of 700 square kilometers was created by damming the Karnaphuli river in Kaptai for the purpose of hydropower generation during the Pakistan government. Built in 1962 at Kaptai, the Karnaphuli hydro power plant currently has a total production capacity of 5 units of 242 MW. All units operate when there is sufficient water upstream. But now only one unit is operational, from which electricity is getting 25 MW per day.

According to the information received from the Kaptai hydro power plant, it is possible to operate only one unit with the current water in the Kaptai lake. It has also been kept in operation keeping in mind the water purification of Chittagong Wasa. If the water falls below 70 MSL, it will not be possible to keep it running.

Alluvium coming down from the upstream and landslides from the hills are depositing at the bottom of Kaptai Lake. Due to this, the bottom of the lake has already filled up a lot and the overall water capacity of the lake has decreased.

The problems caused by the decrease in the navigability of Kaptai Lake, the largest artificial reservoir in Bangladesh, are adversely affecting the economy of Rangamati and the country. Extraction of natural products, tourism and transportation of crops are hampered in the area which is greatly disrupting the economic activities of Rangamati district.

Locals have demanded dredging on an urgent basis to remove the frozen silt at the bottom of the lake to keep economic activities and development activities centered on Kaptai Lake running.

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