The state-run Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has finally woke up to admit that it had supplied polluted water to the people of 57 areas in capital Dhaka.
Replying to a query of the High Court, it submitted a report, saying water supplied to the Dhaka residents in those areas was polluted.A division bench comprised of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam received the report on Thursday.
The areas include Jatrabari, Bashabo, Mugda, Rajarbagh, Kushumbagh, Jurain, Maniknagar, Manda, Dholaipar, Matuail, Bhagolpur, Lalbagh, Bakshibazar, Shahidnagar, Jhigatola, Dhanmondi, Shukrabad, Kalabagan, Bhooter Gali, Mohammadpur, Shewrapara, Pirerbagh, Monipur, Paikpara, Kazipara, Mirpur, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Shiddeshwari, Shahjahanpur, Khilgaon, Moghbazar, Noyatola, Rampura, Malibagh, Paribagh, Kadamtali, Dhoniya, Shyampur, Rasulbagh, Meradnagar, Patherbagh, Shanirakhra, Konapara, Muslimnagar, Badda, Aftabnagar, Bashundhara, Bhatara, Uttara, Khilkhet, Fayedabad, Mollartek, Rana Bhola, Kafrul, Kochukhet and Pallabi.
WASA said the report was prepared on the basis of allegation of the people of 57 areas in the capital.
The High Court directed the head of Microbiology Department of Dhaka University Sabita Rezwana Rahman to appear on May 21 and explain the easy ways of testing the water.
The court fixed May 21 for passing further order on the matter.
Just a day ago, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development (LGRD) and Cooperatives in a report submitted to the High Court said Tk 76 lakh is needed to test the quality of WASA water.The fund requirement came to the fore of discussion following the High Court order to test the quality of water.
The ministry said the amount will be required to conduct the test of 1,064 samples of WASA water.
Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain Sazu, who received the report of the ministry, placed it before the HC bench on Thursday.
On May 13, the High Court directed the Ministry of LGRD to submit within Wednesday a report on the approximate cost of testing WASA water.
On the day, the High Court expressed dissatisfaction with WASA for its failure to test water in 11 zones of Dhaka WASA.
Earlier, Tanvir Ahmed, a lawyer, filed a writ with the High Court seeking directive to ensure the purity of water supplied by WASA.
He also drew attention of court to a news item that water supplied by WASA in 16 areas of Dhaka, including Jurain, Pallabi, Mirpur, Mohammadpur and Postogola, is not hygienic.
However, Dhaka WASA failed to submit the report asked by the High Court on May 13 and sought more time in this regard.
Allegations against WASA for supplying polluted water in different parts of the capital are longstanding.
The water is so contaminated with industrial wastes, chemicals and other effluents that it cannot be treated by WASA let alone users.
On May 7, speakers at a programme held WASA responsible for its contaminated water and urged the stakeholders to take stern action to resolve the issue.
They also condemned commercialisation of drinking water.
The comments came at a public hearing – ‘Safe Water: WASA Claim and Public Experience’ — arranged by Safe Water Movement at Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Prof Amir Hossain Khan, chief scientist of Plasma plus Application and Research Laboratory, at a discussion at CIRDAP in 2016 said surface water is extremely precious as groundwater is depleting consistently.
Unfortunately, surface water is being polluted due to excessive use of nitrogen and phosphate fertiliser, he said.
He opined that organic contaminants, pesticides and heavy metals from industrial and domestic solid and liquid wastes cannot be treated with traditional chlorination and disinfection processes.
As per sources, presently, less than a quarter of Dhaka’s daily demand for 25 million litres of water is met from surface water sources.
Many experts think that the authorities concerned should collect better water from the Jamuna River and other water bodies and supply it to the city dwellers after treatment.
Protest by city dwellers against scarcity and pollution of WASA water has become a regular phenomenon.
On April 17, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) released a report, saying 45 percent service seekers in the capital don’t get the desired amount of water from Dhaka WASA.
It said the shortfall against the demand is 72 percent in slum areas, 45.8 percent in residential areas, 35 percent in commercial areas and 19 percent in industrial areas.
About 35 percent service seekers complain of poor-quality water throughout the year, TIB claimed, quoting its report at a press conference in the capital.
Rejecting the claim, on April 20, WASA managing director Taksim A Khan said the watchdog prepared the report in an “unprofessional” manner.
At a press conference at Sagar-Rooney auditorium of the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), he said TIB made the report in a non-scientific manner.
TIB’s claim of Dhaka residents spending Tk332 crore on an annual basis to make undrinkable WASA water potable was “totally false”, he added.
However, on April 24, a family from Dhaka’s Jurain came to the WASA office to offer lemonade made from water supplied by the organization to its Managing Director Taksim A Khan.
The family members from Jurain were protesting against Taksim claim that water supplied by WASA is completely drinkable.
Interestingly, the WASA managing director refused to drink the lemonade.