DHAKA Water Supply and Sewerage Authority contractors enjoying political clout have, as an Anti-Corruption Commission investigation says, collected their payment for work of eight projects, none being completed in time, much before the completion. This being the case, WASA consumers in the capital city continue to suffer. A study that the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development conducted has found faecal coliform in four of the five underground reservoirs where the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority supplies water through its pipelines to residents of the capital city. The situation has been doubly jeopardising for residents while the agency seems to have been mired in corruption and irregularities. A project designed to reduce dependency on underground water in the Mirpur catchment area was taken up in 2012 at the cost of Tk 521 crore, with 2017 as the completion deadline. The project cost went up by Tk 52 crore in the meantime and the firm carrying out the project was paid Tk 313.71 crore when only 46.72 per cent of the work was completed.
The state of three other projects is almost the same, the contractors being paid more than the work done. While political clout and bribery are blamed for such a state of affairs in the supply water agency, people keep suffering because of other inabilities of the agency. The BRAC Institute of Governance and Development study, based on tests of 15 samples from five pumps at three points — pumping station, ground reservoir and rooftop reservoir — has found faecal coliform, which causes numerous health hazards including ear infections, dysentery, typhoid, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis and hepatitis in the water. Experts attribute 80 per cent of all diseases and two-thirds of the deaths in developing countries to the consumption of poor-quality water. The Transparency International, Bangladesh in an earlier study found that 91 per cent of WASA consumers in Dhaka need to boil water for drinking and that cost natural gas thus burnt goes up to Tk 332 crore a year and about 62 per cent of service seekers faced corruption in getting services from the agency. A decline in WASA services is the fallout of corruption and irregularities in the agency.
The government must, therefore, stop corruption and irregularities in the agency and punish all the people responsible and force the agency to improve the services that it sells to people even, if needed, by overhauling the agency.
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