Poor quality water draws resentment

Flurry of complaints against Wasa
Mizanur Rahman, convener of Movement for Safe Wasa Water, a platform of people living in the capital’s Jurain, Shyampur and Kadamtali areas, speaking at a mass hearing titled “Safe Water: Wasa’s Claim and People’s Experience” at the Jatiya Press Club yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain

Water Supply and Sewerage Authority must shoulder the responsibility for supplying polluted water to city dwellers, a platform of people living in the capital’s Jurain, Shyampur and Kadamtali areas said yesterday at a mass hearing.

Movement for Safe Wasa Water organised the programme, titled “Safe Water: Wasa’s Claim and People’s Experience” at the Jatiya Press Club. Speaking there, many participants said they were suffering because of the water.

“Water is life but we’ve reached a situation where water has become a synonym for death. At many places of Dhaka, Wasa supplies murky and stinky water. And people die of diseases that come with the water,” said one Mahbub Khokon who lives in Jurain.

“We’re not getting the expected service from Wasa …. I request you [Wasa] to take necessary steps to ensure safe water for people,” he said.

Talking to The Daily Star, several other members of the platform echoed Mahbub’s views.

About two weeks ago, some residents of Jurain appeared at the Wasa Bhaban in Karwan Bazar with lemons, sugar, and a jar of murky tap water supplied by “Wasa”.

As a means of protest, they wanted to “treat” Wasa MD Taqsem A Khan with sherbet. A few days prior to that, Taqsem had said Wasa water was completely safe for drinking.

Yesterday, Movement for Safe Wasa Water came up with the programme, where no Wasa official was present.

At the mass hearing, members of the platform showcased 22 bottles of water which they claimed to have collected from different households of Jurain, Shyampur and Kadamtali areas.

Two of the bottles had blackish water while the rest contained water that was yellowish.

The platform demanded punishment of Wasa officials responsible for supplying such water. It also demanded compensation from Wasa, saying the water was responsible for causing various diseases.

Convener of the movement Mizanur Rahman, who was among those who had gone to the Wasa building with the sherbet, placed a five-point demand, including ensuring safe water for all city dwellers immediately, compensating those who suffered from water-borne diseases, giving city dwellers refunds for providing them with dirty water and the resignation of Wasa’s MD if he fails to discharge his duty. 

Mizan said, “We’ll not give in to any fear. We’ll continue our movement for safe water till our last breaths.”

Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) leader Ruhin Hossain Prince said Wasa could not provide people with safe water, but it kept “increasing water prices”.

Eminent economist Prof Anu Muhammad said people at every household people were suffering from illnesses due to polluted air and water.

He also blamed the government for being nonchalant about the issue.

Despite repeated attempts, the Wasa MD could not be contacted for comments yesterday.

In a recent survey, Transparency International Bangladesh, said that about 91 percent of Wasa clients have to boil water before drinking, although it was already supposed to be safe for drinking.

On an average, this second layer of purification at the individual level costs natural gas worth Tk 332 crore every month.

However, Taqsem binned the TIB survey report.

On April 20, Taqsem boasted that Wasa water “is 100 percent pure” while also admitting that sometimes he too boils the water at his home.

“I fail to understand why people would burn gas to boil supply water that is 100 percent pure and safe,” he said at a press conference.


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