Golam Rahman
File photo

The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) wants to fix the price of water based on the affordability of city dwellers and the agency revealed the findings of a technical study on fixing area-based water price on Sunday. According to the new proposal, other than the low-income people or slum dwellers, people will have to purchase water at a higher price.

Former chairman of Anti-Corruption Commission and president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Golam Rahman spoke to Prothom Alo about the rationality of WASA’s such proposal and other issues.

WASA proposed additional price for the affluent in its proposal on fixing area-based water price. How much practical is the proposal?

If this system is introduced, only those who purchase at a higher price will be getting access to water and those who purchase water at a lower price will get low quality of water. Once the sale of class-based water starts, people with low-income will be seen not getting access to water properly.

How much rational is the proposal to increase price of water in all areas of the capital except for slum areas in the name of the affluent?

I do not think it is rational to increase price of water in all areas of the capital except for slum areas. Price of water rises 5 per cent every year. The WASA should focus on stopping waste, irregularities and corruption and there are many allegations against the agency. They should focus on it. They hold people hostage in order to raise their salary. Not a day can be passed without water and there is no alternative supplier to WASA. Water supply is a service but they have no mind-set for service rather Dhaka WASA is thinking about how to raise its staff salary. They are increasing burden on people through waste and extravagance and that is not acceptable in any way.

A decision was taken several days ago to increase price of water by 5 per cent. Why is the WASA mulling price hike again?

The WASA act states the agency can raise the price of water 5 per cent annually, and to rise more than 5 per cent requires approval of the government. The prime minister is very much thoughtful and benevolent to people; she will not obviously support such kind of proposal.

WASA says they have been operating by begging from the government, on the other hand, its officials are receiving huge amount of bonus. How is it logical?

The fund of the government is not alms. The government gives subsidy as it deems necessary and the subsidised money, too, is a public fund. Salary of the WASA managing director should be slashed and an additional secretary or a joint secretary should be appointed there. If additional secretaries of the government can operate Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Petrobangla and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), why will they not be able to run the WASA? Their salary is below Tk 100,000 so why WASA will appoint an MD with salary of Tk 700,000 and rise of water price is his only focus.

Overall, what are the ways out of this situation?

It is necessary to carry out a reform of the WASA first as well as waste, corruption and additional expenditures of WASA should be stopped.