A report published in this daily brings to our attention the High Court's observation that the managing director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) is "intentionally" refraining from implementing a 2011 directive asking the Wasa authorities to seal off drains and sewerage lines linked to the Buriganga. Wasa's long-time MD, Taqsem A Khan, has been violating his commitment and delaying compliance with the court directives by submitting different affidavits and seeking time. So the HC issued a caution to him, asking him to properly implement its directives and submit a compliance report within a month.
Even in December last year, the HC bench noted that Dhaka Wasa was responsible for controlling the 68 underground drains and sewerage lines that were linked to the Buriganga and directed it to implement its directives in this regard and submit the progress report. On the same day, Wasa submitted an undertaking to the HC saying that it would seal off all its drains and sewerage lines and file a progress report every month. Then Wasa's MD, who has been at its helm for 11 years, appeared before the HC bench on March 4, apologising for not implementing the 2011 directives, and said he would take steps to fully comply with them. However, he submitted three confusing reports since last month claiming that Wasa had sealed off four sewerage lines at Hazaribagh area but cannot seal off lines in Shyampur due to floods when, in fact, there is no flooding in Shyampur. This is hardly a surprise as he has a well-documented history of trying to evade responsibility. Last year, he was widely criticised for claiming that water supplied by Wasa was 100 percent safe, when it was anything but. He also told reporters on various occasions that water-related issues can be attributed to technical problems, and often denied reports of corruption and mismanagement within Wasa.
Such evasion of responsibilities can be costly when it comes to rivers. Bangladesh is heavily dependent on its rivers and if these cannot be protected from pollution and damage, they may not survive for long. The activities of Wasa in this regard leave much to be desired, and its commitment is not reassuring at all given its previous record of noncompliance, mismanagement, inefficiency and corruption in handling of the city's water supply and sewerage facilities. As Wasa fails to take initiatives, the Buriganga is choking, as are other connected rivers. It is therefore crucial that the authorities take necessary steps to address this situation. They must ensure that Wasa complies fully with the orders of the HC this time. Continued disregard for the court orders cannot be tolerated.