LGRD Minister Tajul Islam says city corporations are better suited to deal with waterlogging
The government has decided that Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) will be entrusted with the responsibility to get rid of waterlogging in the capital.
The Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD) recommended eliminating waterlogging in Dhaka by handing over charge of drainage department of Dhaka WASA to the two Dhaka city corporations.
The recommendation was made at a consultation meeting held at the Secretariat on Thursday.
Both city corporation mayors agreed to the ministry’s recommendation at the meeting.
LGRD Minister Tajul Islam said: “We have suggested that the city corporations in Dhaka should have the responsibility of managing rainwater to remove waterlogging. We think if we handed over responsibility to the DSCC and DNNC, they could deal with the issue smoothly and public sufferings might be reduced.”
“The city corporations have the capacity to deal with waterlogging and if required they can get support from Dhaka WASA,” he added.
DSCC Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam, Local Government Division Senior Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed and Dhaka WASA Managing Director (MD) Taqsem A Khan spoke at the meeting, among others.
What the authorities say
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said: “We wanted to manage rainwater, which is a big reason behind waterlogging in Dhaka. The government has decided to hand over the responsibility now.”
“Although it is a technical issue of managing canal and storm drainage in Dhaka, we are optimistic, '' said Atiq.
“We will be able to provide relief to citizens by eliminating waterlogging in the city. There are two big issues like capacity building and legal issues,” he added.
“We want to rescue the canals in order to build a walkway, cycle lane and park,” he further said.
DSCC Mayor Taposh said: “Today [Thursday], we have come to a landmark decision to solve a longstanding problem. We are optimistic about solving the issue with support from all quarters.”
Dhaka WASA MD Taqsem said: “We have been involved in the process since 1988 following a government order. But once I was given charge of Dhaka WASA, I started taking initiatives to shift the responsibility to the city corporation.”
Taqsem said he saw no failure of Dhaka Wasa in this regard as it was not their duty.
Earlier, both city mayors had raised the issue several times and urban planners and experts had also placed emphasis on handing over the charge of the drainage system.
In July, Dhaka South Mayor Taposh questioned the sincerity of the authorities to resolve the waterlogging. He took LGRD Minister Tajul Islam and visited the water pumps in the South city to which the minister expressed his dissatisfaction.
The government later formed a committee to find a solution.
Then, on October 10, the local government division started meeting to hand over charge.
According to the Dhaka District Administration, as many as 58 canals in the city are now almost dead owing to the illegal encroachment and waste dumping.
However, Centre for Environmental and Geographical Information Services (CEGIS) said 26 of those canals could still be revived.
The government's water system development agency also suggested that waterlogging can be solved if the 26 canals were connected to four rivers – Buriganga, Balu, Turag, and Sitalakshya.
The hand over process
According to the decision, the government formed a 14-member committee with Additional Secretary (water supply wing) of Local Government Division Mohammad Ibrahim as head and Deputy Secretary of Local Government Sayed Ur Rahman as member secretary.
The committee also includes four officials from each of the two city corporations and Dhaka Wasa.
The Local Government minister said the committee would develop guidelines on the process of handing over responsibility.