In a unique protest, residents of capital’s Jurain brought lemons, a bag of sugar, and a jar of Jurain’s murky tap water to the Wasa Bhaban in Karwan Bazar to “treat” Wasa MD Taqsem A Khan with sherbat yesterday.
But the MD, who had recently said that Wasa tap water was “100 percent pure” for drinking, did not show up for work yesterday.
The small group of Jurain residents said they had been getting murky and filthy tap water for decades and the MD’s comment at a press conference a few days ago was a blatant lie.
They demanded the MD’s resignation.
Five locals went to the Dhaka Water Supply & Sewerage Authority (Wasa) Bhaban around 11:00am and formed a human chain and waited for the MD for around an hour with the sherbat ingredients.
As the MD did not show up, around noon they tried to enter the building but the police, brought in for the protest, prevented them.
Around 1:30pm, they were allowed to enter and Wasa Director Technical AKM Shahid Uddin met them.
“We were not aware of the problem in Jurain and we assure you of taking quick steps to make the supply water in Jurain area drinkable,” Shahid told the protestors.
“I take water of Wasa direct from the taps and I need not boil the water,” Shahid claimed.
He claimed that they supply drinkable water but in some cases the water gets polluted due to leaky old pipes and unclean reservoirs at buildings.
But when the protestors offered him the sherbat, an embarrassed Shahid refused.
“I will not drink the sherbat now but I will take it after taking proper steps to purify the Wasa water in Jurain,” he said.
Mizanur Rahman, who led the protest, said, “We do not believe in assurances … We will gather more people and move to make supply water in Jurain safe.
“We, the people of Jurain, have been suffering for a long time,” he said, demanding the MD apologises and resigns.
He said they had submitted a petition, which 3,500 people of Jurain signed, to Wasa in 2012 for taking necessary steps to fix the supply-water issue but it failed to yield any response from Wasa.
“The water cannot be used even after boiling it,” Mizanur claimed, adding that five to six lakh people were affected by this.
“We fetch water from nearby mosques that have deep tube-wells,” he said.
“We had brought all the ingredients, like sugar and lemon, to prepare the sherbat with Wasa water and if the Wasa MD really believed that the Wasa water is 100 percent pure, he would drink the sherbat,” said Matiar Rahman, another protester.
He claimed that no resident of Dhaka city gets drinkable Wasa supply water and demanded tests be done and necessary steps taken.
Responding to a report of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Wasa MD Taqsem A Khan had said that Wasa water was 100 percent drinkable.
He binned the TIB’s report that said 91 percent of Dhaka city dwellers boiled the supply water from Wasa to make it drinkable.
The Wasa MD could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.