Dhaka gone crazy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 27, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 27, 2009

Dhaka gone crazy

Heat, outage, water crisis cripple city life

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Slum dwellers queue up their utensils near the embankment in Mohammadpur yesterday waiting for the Wasa water tanker. The photo was taken at 7:30 in the morning. Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

Life in the capital has become utterly miserable over the last ten days due to a severe heat wave accompanied with repeated load shedding, an acute water crisis, shortage of gas supply, infestation of mosquitoes, and the resultant near epidemic of diseases like diarrhoea.
Other diseases like typhoid, jaundice, and heatstroke are also on the rise.
Residents of Dhaka city experienced a 14-year record high temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius yesterday with one person dying of diarrhoea the day before.
Students who are taking the ongoing higher secondary certificate (HSC) exams are the worst sufferers among the living, amid an aggregate average load shedding of 8 to 12 hours a day, accompanied by mosquito bites, inadequate gas supply to their home kitchens, and no water at all or supply of dirty malodorous water.
Md Sazzad Hossain, an HSC candidate from Dhaka Commerce College, said he has been enduring load shedding every other hour while preparing for his exams in the sweltering heat punctuated by mosquito bites.
Ahsanul Haque, another HSC candidate from Dhanmondi Ideal School who lives in Mirpur section-12, said everyday they have been going through eight hours of load shedding which is seriously hampering his preparation for the exams.
"Although my father set up an IPS, it doesn't work with repeated load shedding as it needs three hours of continuous charge to produce one hour of alternate electricity," he said.
Nazrul Islam, owner of a plastic goods factory in Islambagh, said production in his factory dropped about 80 percent due to the repeated load shedding.
He said owners of over one lakh small plastic goods factories in Islambagh and Lalbagh areas have been going through the same ordeal.
All three children of Shudhir Chandra Saha, another resident of the area, already have skin rashes due to the hot weather with no way to operate any cooling device due to the load shedding.
Residents of different areas including parts of Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Gandaria, Mohakhali, Gopibagh, Jatrabari, and Shantinagar have been enduring severe water crisis or getting malodorous dirty water.
Md Ayub, a resident of PC Culture Housing Society in Mohammadpur, said they have been facing a water crisis for the last ten days.
A portion of their area has not been getting a single drop of water while they have been getting a very little amount since Saturday, which is not at all adequate to meet their demand, he said.
A high official of Wasa blamed the incessant load shedding for the current water crisis, since almost a half of their pump houses do not have alternate power generators.
Wasa currently has 233 fixed generators and 40 mobile generators for 514 pump houses in the city, he said.
The official said Wasa authorities took some measures including increasing vigilance at the pump houses to cope with the current crisis, and are trying to make the best use of their inadequate number of power generators to increase water supply.
About the dirty water with foul odour, Wasa officials said during dry weather they have to use excessive amount of chemicals to treat the water, which results in malodorous water, 'although that is safe'. And the dirty water is due to leaks in the supply pipeline, which are yet to be fixed, although some repair work have already started.
An official of Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) said they received 1,225 megawatt (MW) of power during the day yesterday while the demand was for more than 1,800 MW. The company received 1,417 MW of power during the evening hours to meet a demand for more than 2,000 MW.
The demand for electricity increased by 200 MW to 300 MW in the capital during the spell of the heat wave, said the DPDC official.
A high official of Power Development Board (PDB) said due to a decrease in gas supply
300 MW Shiddhirganj Power Plant, and 100 MW Haripur Power Plant have been sitting idle, while 360 MW ITP unit in Haripur has been producing only 280 MW.
He also said power generation would resume in 180 MW Raujan Power Plant from early morning today.
If all power plants would work properly, the power supply deficit would be of only 300 MW to 400 MW, which would require only two hours of load shedding instead of the current aggregate average of 8 to 12 hours, he added.
Prof Tafael Ahmed of medicine at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) said foods are rotting due to the hot weather, giving rise to diseases like diarrhoea. People are also complaining about nausea and dehydration, which may cause kidney failures, he added. Heatstroke is also on the rise due excessive sweating, he said.
He advised all to avoid staying outside during the heat wave, and to stay in cool places instead. He also advised people to keep drinking cold water through the day and to sponge their bodies with water periodically.
Chief Entomologist of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) Nasim-Us-Seraj said the corporation is carrying out a larviciding campaign in the city, and preparing for the rainy season to fight aedes mosquito, which carries dengue virus.
Meteorologist Sanaul Haque of the Met Office said the country has been facing a moderate to severe heat wave over the last ten days, which is above one to 6 degrees Celsius higher than the usual temperature of the time.
Sanaul said there is no chance of the weather improving within the next two or three days as there is no possibility of rain during the period.
A moderate to severe heat wave has also been sweeping through Khulna division, and through the regions of Dhaka, Faridpur, Rajshahi and Iswardi while a mild to moderate heat wave has been blowing through Rajshahi and Barisal divisions and the regions of Tangail, Madaripur, Sitakunda, Comilla and Chandpur, he said.
One person died and 1,261 were infected with diarrhoea throughout the country in the 24 hours preceding noon yesterday, according to a statistics of the control room of the health directorate.

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