Unclean water and WASA


Water is said to be another name for life, but Dhaka WASA has been totally negligent about this ‘life’. The expert committee report submitted to the High Court has stated that 8 of the 34 randomly selected water samples from around the city, was contaminated with bacteria. It was recommended that measures be immediately taken against such contamination. However, there is doubt whether the present WASA authorities have the least intention or competence to take any tangible action.

The Dhaka WASA authorities, including its managing director, have not made any move to either discuss the matter openly or to rectify it. The managing director, in his various statements, implies that there is no problem with the water at all.

The 12-member WASA board should also be accountable. While questions have arisen about the quality of WASA water, the board has had nothing to say. Yet the law has given them the responsibility since 1996 to supervise and the management and hold it accountable. The board comprises members of various professions and includes representatives of professors, physicians, engineers, chartered accountants, lawyers and journalists. The government appoints the managing director based on their recommendation. We always place the responsibility on the government and look to them to take measures. The law was passed in the hope that WASA would be free of government control and function properly.

The board should explain why they haven’t addressed the issues revealed in the court verdict. The relevant parliamentary standing committee had already expressed its dissatisfaction with the WASA board. The managing director paid no heed to the committee’s summons. It is a social wrong to simply sit on the WASA board without taking any action. It is unethical. The board must be transparent in its functioning.

On its website, WASA claims to be a role model among developing countries. So it’s no surprise that the managing director claims that they supply 100 per cent drinkable water. Recently when Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said that the water was not drinkable and that 91 per cent of the people had to boil the water first, he simply rejected the TIB claim in a typically political manner. Yet the TIB report was based on information and data from his office.

The question is whether WASA water will be made bacteria free and drinkable without any changes in the management. Another question is how this present managing director has remained in office from 2009 till date.

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