Work on the water treatment plant (phase-I) project began in January 2013 with a cost of Tk 35.08 billion (Tk 3,508 crores). The project expenditure was revised twice to increase to Tk 36.70 billion (3,670 crores). The Chinese government provided Tk 25 billion (2,500 crores) on loan in the project.
The project was in fact undertaken to increase the use of surface water and reduce the use of underground water. But the goal was unfulfilled since the water treatment plant has not been operated at its full capacity.
In Dhaka city, there is a demand of 2.60 billion (260 crores) of water a day and 67 per cent of it is met from underground water.
It’s an enormous loss not to use the full capacity of the water treatment plant two years after it was opened, Golam Mostafa, chairman of Dhaka WASA, observed.
He told Prothom Alo members of the Dhaka WASA board raised questions at the board meeting several times and the matter would be discussed in the next meeting.
Huge expenditure, half outcome
The planning ministry’s Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) submitted a report on the Padma (Jashaldia) Surface Water Treatment Plant (SWTP) Phase-I on 11 February this year.
According to the report, the water treatment plant is supposed to supply 450 million (45 crore) litres of water a day to the existing supply line of the Dhaka WASA. But, 120 million (12 crore) litres of water a day is being supplied to Dhaka city now.
On 4 March this year, the Dhaka WASA sent a letter to the Local Government Division explaining what measures have been taken based on the IMED’s report.
The letter signed by Dhaka WASA managing director Taqsem Khan stated 40 to 50 per cent of water is being supplied to Dhaka WASA from this plant.
However, the Padma-Jashaldia water treatment plant, according to Dhaka WASA’s water production report released in June, supplied, on average, 240 million (24 crores) litres of water a day – 53 per cent of its capacity.
Purified water from the Padma plant flows to Dhaka through a 34-km pipeline with a base of 2,000 millimetres installed beside the Dhaka-Mawa highway.
According to WASA sources, the pipeline enters Dhaka city through the Mitford area near Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital and the pipe become narrower at this point. Since the supply network is not prepared, it is not being operated in full capacity.
In reply to a written query from Prothom Alo, deputy chief public information officer of Dhaka WASA, AM Mostafa said efforts have been carried out for several years to strengthen the water supply line of the Padma-Jashaldia water treatment plant. But, they are not getting the expected response on financing, he added.
More than half of the project fund was spent on pipeline construction and questions had arisen on the quality of work from the beginning.
Besides, the chief of the project consultant team, Bodo Goppart from Danish company Grontmij wrote a letter to the contractor firm saying columns used in the plant’s foundation are no-compliant with international standards and these have to be removed.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, infrastructure expert and former secretary Fouzul Kabir Khan said the project’s goal to supply water to people exists only in paper and the actual motives of the officials concerned are to gain for themselves.
Everyone has received their commission and the officials don’t bother whether people get water or not.
Tk 6.32 billon new project
The Dhaka WASA formulated a detailed project proposal (DPP) to build a supply line after the water treatment plant’s construction ended.
The DPP on the “Strengthening of the Existing Water Supply Distribution System of Dhaka City to Cope the Production of Padma Water Treatment Plant Project (Phase-I) at Jashaldia,” was sent to the ministry in July 2019.
The project cost was estimated at Tk 6.32 billion (Tk 632.28 crore) with an implementation period of March 2020 to March 2022.
Chairman of Dhaka WASA Golam Mostafa said it is not clear whether the WASA authorities lack goodwill or the project is not getting approval even after making efforts. However, the WASA authorities cannot be lethargic. If foreign financing or the government’s allocation does not come, work will start with WASA's funds, he added.
* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna