Perennial water crisis in Dhaka

Published: 00:00, Nov 09,2020


WATER crisis, an undeniable reality of Dhaka, has become evident again as people in many areas have reported that they are deprived of the supply water. Many residents of Mirpur, Jurain, Jatrabari and Old Town of Dhaka have been faced with a serious water crisis for more than a week now. About 400 families in Dhaka’s north ward 11 have complained that they have received no water for a few days. In this situation, the people who can afford rely on water lorries and others have to walk miles to collect just a bucket of water. A lorry of water lasts for a day for a multi-storey building with multiple households but costs Tk 1,000, which is an added burden. In Old Town of Dhaka, it is quite common for people to pay and stand in long queues for water. Several house owners at Paikpara, Mirpur have sought solutions to the problem from the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, but the problem persists.

DWASA officials acknowledged that they have not been able to maintain an adequate supply in parts of the city but blamed the population density and a sudden increase in water consumption. With an increasing number of multi-storey buildings and blocks of flats, the number of water pipelines has increased but the sources remained the same. Authorities do not have any definitive plan to overcome the situation. An inadequate supply of water is not the only problem, the quality of the supply water has also become a major concern. In 2019, a Transparency International Bangladesh report said that 91 per cent of the consumers boil water before drinking and gas worth Tk 332 crore is burnt annually for the job. In addition, a large number of consumers suffered from various waterborne diseases because of the poor quality of the supply water. The services have also not improved, yet the tariff has increased. Another round of tariff increase has been in discussions. Unplanned urbanisation and mismanagement in DWASA have largely been blamed as reasons for the deepening water crisis.

In the prevailing situation, supply water authorities must immediately address the water scarcity in affected areas, by arranging, if needed, water lorries for a subsidised rate. The government must also urgently review the situation and allocate required resources to secure additional water sources. The government must also take steps to improve the water quality that has been a concern for people in Dhaka. Meanwhile, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha must maintain a conservative policy in approving real estate projects in Dhaka as unplanned and uncoordinated urbanisation is one of the main reasons for the water scarcity. In the long term, authorities must explore further water sources to reduce heavy dependency on groundwater for domestic use.

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