The High Court today came down heavily on Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) for not complying with its 2011 directive over sealing all sewerage lines to Buriganga River and for making an untrue statement about sewerage lines connected to the river.
The Dhaka Wasa is responsible to control all the underground drainage system in Dhaka city, but it wanted to avoid the responsibility by saying that the Dhaka city corporations are supposed to control the drainage system, the HC said, adding that it will not accept any negligence in discharging duties.
The bench of Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore and Justice Mohammad Ullah made the observation during hearing a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a rights organisation, on May 4, 2010, seeking immediate steps to prevent water pollution in the Buriganga.
Meanwhile today, Wasa’s Managing Director Taqsem A Khan offered an unconditional apology to the HC bench for making an untrue statement about sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga.
He submitted the apology petition to the HC bench through a lawyer M Nahiyan-Ibn-Subhan, saying that there are 16 sewerage lines connected to the river, which cause pollution.
Advocate Nahiyan represented Wasa’s panel lawyer AM Masum before the HC saying that his senior counsel Barrister AM Masum could not appear before the court due to his personal difficulties.
The court refused to hear arguments from Nahiyan in detail saying that he has no authority to place arguments instead of the panel lawyer of Wasa.
Writ petitioner’s lawyer Advocate Manzill Murshid told the court that the Wasa could have sealed the sources of wastes connected to Buriganga River as a part of implanting its 2011 directives, but it did not do that.
He prayed to the HC bench to issue a contempt of court rule against Wasa’s MD for not complying with the directive.
Earlier in the day, the Department of Environment (DoE) submitted a report to the HC through its lawyer Advocate Amatul Karim saying that it has shut 18 factories on the bank of the Buriganga River in Dhaka as they are operating without environment clearance certificates.
The HC bench fixed tomorrow for passing order on the issue.
It also asked Wasa’s law officer Zahidul Islam to appear before this court tomorrow along with relevant files he has initiated for complying with the directives.
Zahidul appeared before the bench to represent Wasa MD during the court proceedings.
Following the same writ petition, the HC on June 1, 2011, had directed the government to seal all sewerage lines to the Buriganga within the next year.
The court had also directed the authorities concerned to stop dumping waste into the river and declared their inaction in preventing water pollution illegal. The authorities were directed to clean up the river and move all sources of pollution from there.
On November 17 this year, the HC directed the DoE to shut the factories on the bank of the Buriganga River which were operating without environment clearance certificates.
At the same time, the court asked the managing director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) to explain in 15 days why legal action should not be taken against him for making a false statement about sewerage lines connected to the river.
Wasa MD Taqsem A Khan earlier submitted a report, saying there are no sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga and there is no pollution. But BIWTA in a report said there are several sewerage lines connected to the river, which cause pollution.