WATER scarcity and disruption in supply in different parts in Dhaka, which appears to have become commonplace, comes as more worrying in Ramadan and amidst the ongoing set of restrictions on public gathering and movements. Residents in parts of Old Town of Dhaka, Mirpur, Mohammadpur and Badda have complained that they suffer from routine disruption in water supply and receive dirty water. Residents of Kajla, Jatrabari and some other parts of Old Town of Dhaka have complained that they are supplied with dirty water that they cannot use even for bathing and cooking while residents of some parts at Mirpur, Mohammadpur and Badda have complained of insufficient amount of supply water. Residents of the areas are sometimes reported to get supply water for less than an hour. Such a situation has forced the residents concerned to collect water from nearby water pumps, in breach of the social distancing protocol, to meet their daily minimum demand. What is worrying is that the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has not attended to the persistent problem despite repeated requests and applications from consumers.
The Dhaka WASA authorities seek to explain its failure by saying that the disruption in supply is temporary in most of the affected places while there are technical and distribution problems in some places. The authorities say that water shortage at some areas in Mirpur is caused by power disruption and that supply of dirty water in parts of Old Town is caused by an excessive level of iron in underground water. Many deep ground-water pumps, as officials say, do not supply enough water as the water level has declined over the years. All this suggests that the agency has been negligent in addressing the problems that have persisted for months and, in some cases, for years. The agency is reported to have spent more than Tk 7,205.49 crore on the construction of water treatment plants, the installation of deep tube wells and the laying out of distribution lines in the past few years, but it has failed to ensure services that the projects are expected to offer. The agency also has 11 other ongoing projects involving about Tk 25,640.91 crore, but the agency still has been unable to supply safe water and ensure uninterrupted supply. What is further worrying is Dhaka WASA’s plan to charge extra for fresh water by setting ATM Water Booth at the pump stations wherefrom people now collect water free.
Dhaka WASA must, therefore, attend to the issue of disruption in water supply and the supply of contaminated and unsafe water that adversely impact the lives of thousands of city residents. The agency must also expedite its ongoing projects, most of which are reported to be running behind schedule, to ensure safe drinking water for all. The agency must not charge extra money for water collected from its pump stations.
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