The High Court yesterday asked a writ petitioner to inform the court by May 13 about the areas where water supplied by the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority is highly contaminated and unsafe.
Supreme Court lawyer and writ petitioner Tanvir Ahmed told The Daily Star that he would collect the information on polluted and unsafe Wasa water from the media and other sources.
The HC bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam passed the order during hearing a petition filed by Tanvir.
Earlier in the day, Dhaka Wasa submitted a report to the HC through Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain Sazu mentioning
that it had formed a four-member committee to examine the quality of the Wasa water.
Members of the committee are from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka University and International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh to examine the quality of the water supplied by Wasa.
Dhaka Wasa stated in the report that it would examine the water at the laboratories of DU, BUET and icddr,b after getting the necessary funds.
The Wasa will take at least four months to get the Wasa water tested at the labs, DAG Motaher Hossain Sazu told The Daily Star.
The HC will pass further order on this issue on Monday, he said.
Following the same writ petition filed by Tanvir Ahmed, the HC on November 7 last year ordered Dhaka Wasa to form a four-member committee to test its water quality.
The court also issued a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain why their failure to supply safe water should not be declared illegal, and why they should not be directed to do so.
In the writ petition filed on October 14, Tanvir Ahmed included a report published by The Daily Star on October 12.
The Daily Star report, based on a World Bank study, said 98 percent of Bangladesh’s people had access to water from technologically-improved sources, but E coli contamination was found in 80 percent of the household tap water across the country.
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.
On Tuesday, Movement for Safe WASA Water, a platform of sufferers, held a mass hearing where it showcased 22 bottles of water which they claimed to have collected from different households of Jurain, Shyampur, Kadamtali and Mirhajirbag areas under ward no 51, 52, 53, 54, 58, 59 and 60 of Dhaka South City Corporation.
Two of the bottles had blackish water while the rest contained water that was yellowish.
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, WASA’s Managing Director Taqsem binned the TIB 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.