Report submitted in High Court shows residents of 59 areas have complained about worst quality water
Although Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan previously claimed that they supply 100% drinkable water to the people of the capital, a report signed by him and submitted in High Court on Thursday directly contradicts his statement.
Over the past three months, the state agency received complaints from 292 consumers from different areas of the city through its hotline — 16162 — about receiving contaminated water, said the report.
It said residents of 59 of those areas under 10 MODS zones have complained about receiving the worst quality water supplied by the state agency.
Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain Sazu, on behalf of a committee formed by the LGRD Ministry, submitted the report prepared by Dhaka Wasa before the bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam on Thursday.
Dhaka Wasa sent the report to the LGRD Ministry last Monday, and Motaher received it from the ministry’s committee on Wednesday.
According to the committee, 355 water samples would be collected from each area under the 10 MODS zones, and Tk75.62 lakh will be required to run bacterial and physicochemical tests on a total of 1,065 samples in three laboratories.
After the hearing on the report, the court summoned Dr Sabita Rezwana Rahman, chairperson of Microbiology Department at Dhaka University, to appear before it on May 21 and explain details of the water testing procedures.
Dr Sabita, BUET Prof ABM Badruzzaman, and icddr,b scientist Dr Munirul Alam are members of the LGRD Ministry committee, which also has Local Government Division Additional Secretary Md Zahirul Islam as the convener.
The areas receiving poor quality water
MODS Zone 1: Jatrabari, Basabo, Mugda, Rajarbagh, Kusumbagh, Jurain, Maniknagar, Manda, Dholaipar and Matuail
MODS Zone 2: Bhagalpur, Lalbagh, Bakshibazar and Shahidnagar
MODS Zone 3: Jigatola, Dhanmondi, Shukrabad, Kalabagan, Bhuter Goli and Mohammadpur
MODS Zone 4: Shewrapara, Pirerbagh, Monipur, Paikpara, Kazipara and Mirpur
MODS Zone 5: Mohakhali and Tejgaon
MODS Zone 6: Siddheshwari, Shahjahanpur, Khilgaon, Moghbazar, Noatola, Rampura, Malibagh and Poribagh
MODS Zone 7: Kadamtoli, Dhonia, Shyampur, Rasulpur, Merajnagar, Paterbagh, Shonir Akhra, Konapara and Muslim Nagar
MODS Zone 8: Badda, Aftabnagar, Bashundhara and Bhatara
MODS Zone 9: Uttara, Khilkhet, Fayedabad, Mollartek and Ranabhola
MODS Zone 10: Kafrul, Kazipara, Mirpur, Kochukhet and Pallabi
In a report in April, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said 34.5% of Dhaka Wasa consumers complained of poor quality water throughout the year. The report went on to say that people have to burn Tk3,32.37 crore worth of gas every year to boil the water in order to make it consumable.
Dhaka Wasa MD Taqsem Khan has categorically denied the charges, claiming the water is 100% drinkable, sparking widespread criticisms and protests. He also did not respond to a much-publicized demand for him to drink lemonade made with the water they supply.
A dissatisfied High Court
The High Court on October 14, 2018 had issued a ruling asking the relevant authorities to examine the quality of water supplied by Dhaka Wasa after Advocate Tanvir Ahmed filed a petition, citing media reports on a World Bank report over the issue.
The LGRD Ministry formed the committee on November 7 last year following the High Court’s order.
The court also ordered Dhaka Wasa to submit a report about the cost to test the water of different areas under the 11 MODS zones of Dhaka and Narayanganj city corporations.
On May 8, the court also sought information about the areas of Dhaka that Wasa is supplying with contaminated and unsafe water.
Following the court’s order, Tanvir submitted a report before it last Monday along with a report published by Dhaka Tribune, which showed that water supplied by Dhaka Wasa to 16 areas— including Jurain, Postogola, Pallabi, Mirpur, and Mohammadpur—is unusable.
The LGRD Ministry submitted the report after the High Court last Monday asked the committee to examine the quality of water supplied by Dhaka Wasa and find out how much the testing would cost.
On the day, the court also expressed its dissatisfaction with Dhaka Wasa for failing to examine water in the 11 zones and submit the report. Afterwards, Wasa sought seven more days to carry out the order.
During the hearing, the court also asked the LGRD Ministry to submit a report by Wednesday, regarding the cost to test the water in 11 zones, and asked the authorities concerned to collect 22 bottles of water samples from these zones for testing.
Advocate Tanvir on Thursday said the court summoned the expert to find out whether the testing of a reduced number of samples would decrease the Tk75.62 lakh cost without affecting the results.
He said he also urged the court to ask Dhaka Wasa MD Taqsem not to make any controversial and contradictory statements in future about the water quality that would draw adverse reaction from the consumers.
How drinkable is Wasa’s water?
According to the TIB report, 51.5% of all Dhaka Wasa consumers in the capital reported that the water they receive was visibly filthy, while 41.4% complained their water smelled terrible.
Poor water quality all year round was also reported by 34.5% of Wasa users.
Water quality was reported to be the poorest in summer with 62.1%, followed by 59.6% in the monsoon, with only 7.5% complaining of poor water quality in winter.
On May 7, advocates of safe water asked Dhaka Wasa to take responsibility for the quality of water it supplies, following a myriad of complaints by angry consumers from around the city.
The platform, named Wasa Nirapod Pani Andolon, announced a five-point charter of demands, which include clean water to be supplied everywhere; compensation for people who have fallen sick consuming dirty water; reimbursement for bills paid for polluted water; an investigation into Wasa's inefficiency; and resignation of the Dhaka Wasa MD if he fails to fulfil his responsibilities.
The speakers also demanded that the Dhaka Wasa MD must apologize for issuing a false statement regarding the quality of water.