ALMOST a forced operation of the Padma Water Treatment Plant to a little more than 22 per cent of its daily capacity in the absence of a supply line capable of withstanding the increased pressure is worrying. The plant, set up at Jashaldia in Munshiganj to benefit residents of Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi, Hazaribagh and Old Town of Dhaka, produces only 100 million litres of water a day while its production capacity is 450 million litres, leaving a little less than 80 per cent of its capacity unused. The problem of spending such a huge amount of money on a solution that has failed to afford the targeted section of city residents the intended results has surfaced as the Water Supply and Sewerage Agency has failed to simultaneously develop the supply line connecting the areas to the Babu Bazar point. But for the stretch of the supply line from the plant to Babu Bazar, developed under the project that spanned seven years, the remaining stretches of service lines reaching end users are reported to have many holes that fail to withstand the increased water pressure, reducing the usability of the plant.
What compounds the problem is that the agency would need to pay Tk 2.6 billion additionally a year in debt servicing liability for the repayment of loans taken from the Chinese Exim Bank which is said to have forced the agency to increase water tariff to Tk 14.46 a unit from Tk 11.57, entering into force on April 1, the 10th round in 11 years accounting for a 98 per cent increase in all since 2009. Engineers at the agency, however, seek to say that the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority could have earned Tk 4.2 million a day with the tariff at Tk 11.57 if it had been able to use the plant’s full production capacity. All this suggests a serious lack of vision and inefficiency of the supply water agency as it has failed to rework the supply line under the project, worked out in 2001, that began work in 2013. The problem with the Padma Water Treatment Plant almost resembles what has dogged Bangladesh’s largest thermal power plant at Payra with a generation capacity of 1,320MW. The first 660MW unit which began its test run in January has failed to be of optimal use as the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh has failed to lay out the transmission line between the plant and the Aminbazar point in Dhaka to feed power into the national grid. There has been a double-circuit line from the plant to Gopalganj substation, but the substation cannot yet handle any double-circuit line, defeating the purpose of the project, which might make the government pay Tk 1.6 billion a month in capacity charge to the Bangladesh-China Power Company.
In the case of the Payra power plant, the transmission line between the plant and Aminbazar could be fully laid out in June 2021 but in the case of the Padma plant, a proposal involving Tk 6.32 billion for the distribution line was submitted to the planning ministry in January and the project is said to be completed in two years. But the tendency that one part of a problem being resolved with the other part left neglected seems to be weaving a pattern, which is unacceptable. The government must rework its project planning to save national resources from being rendered useless.
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