River Research Institute (RRI)

History of RRI

History of River Research Institute

(Former Hydraulic Research Laboratory)





1. River problems are very intricate and require scientific investigation and research in a laboratory with a view to arriving at correct solution before actually launching a scheme, which is generally very costly. The researches on river and other hydraulic problems result in economising the different projects of water resources development and guard against waste of huge expenditure that may be incurred in executing defective schemes. The expenditure involved in carrying out researches and investigations for a project/scheme is insignificant compared to the total project cost.


2. The necessity of establishing a research laboratory at Dhaka for conducting the investigations tests and researches on rivers and allied problems under Irrigation Directorate of the then Provincial Govt. of East Bengal of the then Pakistan was felt after independence from the British rule on 14 August, 1947 as the River Research Institute, Bengal which was established in 1943 near Calcutta for the similar research works fell in West Bengal of Bharat. In the middle of 1948 the Government sanctioned the scheme for establishing the new laboratory with the name 'Hydraulic Research Laboratory (HRL), at Dhaka. As news from the Dhaka staff reporter was published in "The Statesman", Calcutta on 12.8.1948 regarding the sanction of the HRL. As a background information portion of the news is reproduced here: ........For the successful tackling of these and allied problems the setting up of Hydraulic Laboratory at Dacca is proposed and Rs. 1, 22,000/- has been sanctioned. The Institute will enable collection of hydrological data of the principal rivers of the province as also provides facilities for scientific studies of problems". The selected site on the Coolie road (now known as Green Road), was approved and about 12 acres of land including about 4 acres of low area was acquired by the Government towards the end of 1949. The acquired land had on it two interconnected ponds. The water of these ponds has been used in the hydraulic model studies since the beginning of the experimental works in the HRL through recirculating channels and sumps. The land also had at the time of acquisition a few small semi-permanent shed along the side of the then narrow Coolie road and these sheds were initially used for stores, guard-sheds and single accommodation of a few subordinate employees.

3. The site was then quite outside the Dhaka City of 1950’s and the locality did not have any residential buildings, which mostly came up in the 1960’s and afterwards. The Coolie road was metalled after 1955. The old structures existing the site of HRL by the side of the narrow Coolie road, were demolished in 1962 when the road was widened to the present position. Before 1955 the employees of RRI used to come from the Dhaka city, now known as old Dhaka, by Dhaka-Tongi buses to Kawran Bazar Railway Crossing or to Farm Gate and then walk down to the HRL through the earthen roads and some of them (including the Research Officer (Physics) in-charge of HRL used to come to HRL on bi-cycles up to about 1961 from the different parts of the old Dhaka city. Mr. M. A. Rahman, Research Officer (Physics), who was appointed in that position in 1943 in Research Institute, Bengal, came to Dhaka in August 1947 with the option to serve under the then Pakistan, was made the officer-in-charge of the Hydraulic Research Laboratory from the beginning. He became Deputy Director from 09.12.1958, Director in-charge from 01.01.1960 and was Director of the HRL from 1.1.1963 to 31.1.1974.

He made enormous contributions in setting up and developing the HRL and in researches in the related fields. The HRL was developed in about thirty years from 1948 to 1978 in phases according to the needs of the country and with the availability of fund. The HRL was ready for model experiments towards the end of 1951 after the construction of the minimum required functional facilities and the model experiments were taken up from January 1952. In the beginning the laboratory was mainly engaged in the experimental works of Karnaphuli Hydro-electric Project. The Soil Mechanics Section started works from the middle of 1952 after the appointment and joining of the Research Officer (chemistry) of HRL in May 1952. Sediment Analysis section and Concrete and Materials testing section were also started under him from 1956-57 and 1959-60 respectively.

Sir Claude Inglis King, then Director of the Hydraulics Research, Station, Wallingford, England visited, the HRL on 22 February 1953 and made the following remarks "a very good beginning but must be greatly extended to deal with river anc1 tidal problems, erosion, formation of bars, meanders and tidal penetration".



The Government accorded sanction in August 1955 to construct the building of the laboratory measuring about 25.15 m x 15.70 m. covered area. The ground floor of this building was completed in 1957-58, first floor in 1959 -1950 and second floor with C.I. sheet sloping roof in 1963-64. The Govt. also sanctioned a small permanent set-up for the laboratory in March 1956. Before that a temporary small set-up consisting of 3 posts of Research Officer and a few assisting staff was sanctioned on year to year basis. The permanent set-up sanctioned in 1956 included one post of Director, one post of Deputy Director and three post of Asst. Director (previously Research Officer) and a few subordinate research and administrative personnel. Not much headway was made in its development until the laboratory came under the newly created the then East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority in 1959. Shortage of technical officers and staff greatly handicapped the progress of research works. It was difficult to attract and retain the talented scientists and engineers in the laboratory in required numbers.

P.C.1 for the Development of Hydraulic Research Laboratory under the first Five Year Plan of the then Pakistan was prepared. and submitted on 31.10.55. This P. C. 1 was approved by the then Pakistan Government in August 1960.


During the Second Five Year Plan one Hydraulic Engineer and one Soil Engineer of M/S.I.E.Co. Inc. General Consultants for the then East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (EPWAPDA) were attached to the laboratory for about 2 years from 1950 to 1962, then again two other Hydraulic Engineers for two short terms covering about two years and one Soil Engineer for about 2 years from 1963 to 1965 of the same consulting firm were attached to HRL to train the Assistant Technical Officers and Technical Officers of the laboratory specially in hydraulics and soil mechanics by theoretical lectures, notes and practical demonstrations. These officers were mostly appointed between 1960 and 1964 for the laboratory and the acute shortage of trained technical personnel was reduced to some extent and there by the quality and quantity of research works improved greatly. With the completion of the construction of the Karnafulli Hydro-electric Project sixty one Soil and Concrete Technicians, who were appointed and given in-service training by the M/S International Engineering Co., Inc. Consultant for that Project,  became surplus and the erstwhile Water and Power Development Authority absorbed them in 1961 and 1962 in phases and placed them under the control of Hydraulic Research Laboratory to utilize their services in the laboratory and in the job-site for quality control of concrete and earth works under the projects. Since then the laboratory maintained a Pool of Soil and Concrete Technicians and provided field services on receipt of requests from the concerned Chief Engineers and Project Directors/Superintending Engineers.

The development programme of HRL as per appro,red P.C.1 was started in December 1960. Due to non-availability of land at different proposed sites residential quarters as per P.C. 1 could not be constructed over many years. Except for the construction of quarters,  practically all the money sanctioned by the Govt. for the construction of the laboratory and purchase of equipment and machinery was exhausted. By June 1965 the laboratory had (a) a three-storied modest building as mentioned earlier (b) a 36.59 m x  27.44 m (120 feet x 90 feet) covered she11-roof shed for hydraulic models, (c) a concrete laboratory housed in a C.I. sheet roofed shed and a modest work-shop, (d) an open-air model flume covering an area of about 76.22 m x 45.73 m (250 feet x 150 feet) where big river models were laid, (e) two big sumps, with recalculating arrangement, (f) a 1.22 m(4 feet) wide and 32.32 m (106 feet) long flume with transparent plastic sheets on one side under the shell roof and a pump house and a pump with recalculating arrangement for sediment transport studies, (g) a pilot tidal model to study tidal drift with upstream supply and other facilities and (h) about 2 acres of 0.92 m to 1.52 m (3 feet to 5 feet) deep low land within the premises filled with earth for open-air river models.

It was realised by the end of 1963 that much had to be done for a modern laboratory. The existing facilities and equipment were quite inadequate to meet the research requirements of growing problems. The original estimate was prepared in 1955, and by 1963 the idea and knowledge of a well-equipped laboratory had been completely revolutionized. The laboratory did not have much equipment and accommodation for tackling; tidal problems, coastal erosion problems, flood control problems and port and harbour problems. It was really a big short-coming and it was strongly felt that the original estimate required thorough revision for farther development and modernisation of the laboratory to meet the research requirements in connection with the gigantic water development projects. It was also felt that the space available within the HRL premises could not be fully utilized without adequate cover against rain and inclement weather for river models. About 2 acres of land within the laboratory premises was also 3.05 m to 3.66 m (10 feet x 12 feet) low and needed reclamation by earth filling for laying the river models. A separate building to accommodate Soil Mechanics and Materials Section and a hangar type laboratory main hall measuring 91.46 m x 60.98 m (300 feet x 200 feet) mainly for indoor models, a wave basin, a flume for meander problem studies and models of tidal problems, coastal erosion problems and port and harbour protection problems, were necessary. Therefore, the original estimate was revised for farther development and modernisation of HRL as stated above. The total revised cost stood at Tk.1,35,66,000.00 of which foreign exchange component was Tk.25,14,000.00. The revised P.C.1 for the same was prepared and submitted on 15.6.65. It was again revised and re-submitted on 19.4.67 at a revised total cost of Tk.1,92,32,000.00 with the foreign exchange component of Tk.25,14,000.00. The estimate was again revised after discussion with Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on 28.8.68 and reduced to Tk.68,06,000.00 with foreign exchange component of Tk.19,62,000.00. In this latest revised estimate the cost of construction of staff quarters was dropped as per instruction of the CDWP and it was approved in December, 1968 to be spread over a period of 10 years starting from July 1960. The construction of the laboratory building and hangar type shed which were the two major items of works in this latest revised estimate could not be completed during the plan period for unavoidable circumstances. A major portion of scientific apparatuses had been procured. However, the remaining about 2 acres of low land within HRL premises had been filled up to the required level and mechanically compacted as per plan for river models where facilities for the G.K. Intake Channel Model and Ganges Barrage model were developed in the later years. After liberation of Bangladesh, the estimate was revised at Tk.2,71,20,000.00 with foreign exchange component of Tk.23,11,000.00 only and the P.C.1 for the same was prepared and submitted on 4.10.73. It was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEX), Govt. of the People's Republic of Bangladesh on 4.7.75 for the entire amount. The approved estimate included Tk.1,08,34,000.00 for staff quarters. The revised set-up as proposed in the P.C.1 was also sanctioned in May 1977, which included 293 employees with one Director, two Additional Directors, seven Deputy Directors (technical) one Administrative Officer and one Executive Engineers among others. The construction of the four-storeyed laboratory building (known as Soil Mechanics Building) measuring about 36.59 m x 14. 79 m (120'-0" x 48'-6") covered area to accommodate soil mechanics and materials laboratories was started in the financial year 1976-77 and completed in about 1979-80.

 Soil Mechanics, Concrete, Sediment and Chemical Laboratories, Library and Drawing section were shifted to this new building in phases with the gradual completion of the different floors of the building and some instruments and equipment, which could not be installed and put into operation and testing capacity of the laboratories improved and increased greatly thereby.

  The total expenditure incurred against the P.C.1 of HR for its development from 1960 to 1978 was about Tk.108 lakhs in addition to what was spent from 1948 to 1960 against the revenue budget of the then Provincial Govt. A large amount in local currency was also received from the different projects/clients over about 3 decades for construction of model facilities and local purchase of pumps, motors and other equipments for hydraulic model studies for those projects/clients and the facilities so developed became ass8ts of HRL for future research.

The HRL was merged with the River Research Institute (RRI), Bangladesh with effect from August 29, 1978 with all its employees, assets and liabilities; and the HRL ceased to exist by this name. While the development of land and construction of functional facilities have been in progress at RRI site near Faridpur town, the tests and researches in the different disciplines of RRI have been continuing in the premises of former HRL at 72, Green Road, Dhaka.