We are shocked that 16 percent of the water supplied by Wasa in Dhaka is not clean and as many as 57 city areas are getting contaminated. This has been revealed after Wasa made the admission in a report submitted before the High Court. The cause of the contamination is also outrageous—broken-down supply lines.
This begs the question why this report was submitted after months of public suffering and regular complaints by consumers about the bad quality of water. In April of this year Transparency International Bangladesh’s year-long study found 91 percent Wasa subscribers have to boil the supply water to make it drinkable, burning Tk 332 crore a year burning gas to do so. The report has found that almost half the subscribers do not get the desired amount of water while 35 percent find the water to be of poor quality.
This paper has repeatedly reported on the poor quality of water, quoting city dwellers who are at their tethers end trying to get water from clean sources.
What is clearly a maintenance issue should have been addressed many years ago. The supply lines are as old as 150 years and only less than half (24,000 km out of 60,000 km) has been replaced. Thus more than 50 percent of the network has been waiting for 150 years to be replaced!
There can be no justification for such gross neglect of such an essential public service just as there is no excuse for the Wasa managing director to have said less than a month ago, that the Wasa water “is 100 percent pure” although admitting that even he himself has to boil the water sometimes at his home. Since then the MD has admitted his mistake but this hardly provides solace to the public who are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases because of the contamination. The Wasa report based on a World Bank Study has found 80 percent of the household tap water across the country has E-coli contamination.
We are relieved that the court, after a report in this paper about quality of water, ordered the LGRD ministry to form a four-member committee to test the water following a writ petition. Finally, it seems something will be done to address this crisis. Apart from continuous testing of water we urge the government to expedite the replacement and repair of broken supply lines as this is the major factor behind this widespread contamination.