Govt reviewing city mayors’ proposal of taking charge of drainage system

Ershad Kamol | Published at 02:14am on July 24, 2020

Local Government and Rural Development minister Md Tajul Islam told New Age on Thursday that the ministry in the next few days would review the entire system before making a decision to hand over the responsibility of development and maintenance of drainage system to Dhaka’s two city corporations.

The LGRD minister told New Age on Thursday that the ministry in the next few days would review the whole system, evaluating the demands of the two city corporations, their capacities, existing laws, drainage and pumping satiations on Wednesday before making a decision to start the handover process.

Earlier, while accompanying the minister during a visit to the waterlogged areas in Dhaka, the two city mayors proposed that the city corporation should take over the responsibility of the drainage system from Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.

‘Dhaka’s two mayors now demand that they should take responsibilities of developing and maintaining the drainage system, including the natural canals, though it was handed over to WASA in 1989 as the then mayor refused to take any such responsibilities,’ Tajul said. 

For the past few days Dhaka South City mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and Dhaka North City mayor Atiqul Islam had been critical of WASA for developing a drainage system that did not solve waterlogging and it failure to ensure infrastructural maintenance.

They also argued that they had to face regular criticism from people for water stagnation that results from even an hour of rain.

‘Moreover, the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009 makes city corporations responsible for developing drainage system and maintaining water bodies in a city and we are ready to take that responsibilities,’ Taposh told Tajul in a webinar held on Wednesday.

Taposh further said that WASA completely failed to develop the drainage system despite spending crores of taka for developing a master plan and initiating different projects.

Water development board also failed to maintain the canals, outlets and pumping stations under their jurisdiction, the DSCC mayor said.

At present, WASA is responsible for maintaining 26 natural canals in the capital and 385km main drainage lines while the two city corporations are responsible for maintaining over 2,000km primary drainage connected to the households.

The waterlogging occurs as canals and main drainage lines become clogged due to the disposal of solid wastes and human sludge in the drainage system in the absence of a separate sewage system, said Mujibur Rahman, former BUET civil engineering professor and also developer of the master plan of Hatirjheel Beautification project.

Over the years, Mujib said, WASA failed to develop separate drainage and sewage systems in the capital. ‘Handing over the two services to the city corporations might yield better results,’ he said, adding that all the canals must be reclaimed through evictions and retention ponds must be developed near the pumping stations for yielding better results.

Dhaka district administration record shows that the number of canals in the capital was 54, while water development board’s last year’s survey said that the number was 39.

Tajul said that the drainage system would be handed over gradually to the city corporations so that they would have time for developing their capacities.

‘Otherwise, the people might suffer, which would be unexpected,’ he said.