A spate of illnesses among officials of the two city corporations, including the Dhaka North mayor, caused the LGRD ministry yesterday to postpone a meeting that would have paved the way to handing control of the city's drainage management from Dhaka Wasa to the city corporations.
"We have postponed the meeting as Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam, its chief executive officer and many other officials of DNCC are now ill. We have postponed it due to the request of DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh as some officials of DSCC are also ill," said Minister Md Tazul Islam of Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives.
Tazul said a fresh date for the meeting will be announced when they recover.
"In the meeting, we will discuss the canals and drainage system of Wasa [Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority], how we can hand over the work to the city corporations and what we will have to do for this regarding the process," he said.
The two mayors, managing director of Wasa, officials of LGRD ministry and other concerned organisations were supposed to attend the meeting scheduled to be held at the LGRD ministry. LGRD ministry would preside over the meeting.
The idea of handing over the drainage management to city corporations came to light in July when the two mayors -- Dhaka South's Shekih Fazle Noor Taposh and Dhaka North's Atiqul Islam -- said they wished to take over the job.
They also criticised Wasa and Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) for their failure to solve the long-standing problem.
The two mayors blamed Dhaka Wasa for failing to properly clean the canals, drains and box culverts under its jurisdiction, causing waterlogging in the city in July due to heavy rain. They also slammed BWDB for failing to pump out storm water in time after rain.
Of the total drainage lines in the capital, 385km are under Dhaka Wasa. This key utility service provider is also responsible for the maintenance of 26 canals with a total length of 74km and box culverts of 10km.
However, experts said it would be unfair to blame Wasa alone.
They said it was a collective failure -- of two city corporations that manages some 2,500km of surface drains in the city, the deputy commissioner's office that owns canals and many water bodies, and the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) which owns city lakes including Hatirjheel and is the custodian of many flood flow zones and retention areas.
Besides, Bashundhara Residential Area authorities and Cantonment Board are two entities who enjoy autonomy in water management in their respective areas.
Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan, now about to take charge for three more years after failing to provide safe drinking water to over one crore city-dwellers and solve the waterlogging problem over 11 years in charge, told The Daily Star a few months ago that waterlogging during monsoon cannot be solved with only an artificial drainage system.