Mosque water the only alternative
It costs over Tk 50,000 monthly to provide the water. The mosque authority bears the costs, and over thousands of people are benefitting.
It takes Anwar Hossain, a 60-year-old cook at a mess in the capital's Farmgate, about an hour to make a trip to the nearest deep tube-well, get 10 litres of water, and return home.
Anwar has difficulties walking but still has to make the journey daily, just to get drinking water. He has been doing this for the last three months, even though there is a water line of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Dhaka Wasa) at his home.
Why is an elderly struggling so much to have access to a basic amenity, that too in the capital?
"The tap water often smells of bleaching powder. The stench doesn't go away even after boiling. It's not drinkable," Anwar said.
Fortunately, Anwar came to know about the deep tube-well of West Tejturibazar Jame Mosque. And since then, he gets his drinking water from there.
While visiting the mosque for the last one week, a huge gathering was seen in front of the mosque's tube-well every day from evening.
Like Anwar, residents of West and East Tejturibazar, Green Road and Farmgate areas gather at the mosque to get water, according to locals and mosque authorities. And just like Anwar, everyone has Wasa's line at home.
Fifth-grader Niloy Pal Biswas, a resident of Green Road, said, "At first, we would drink tap water at home after boiling it, but then it became undrinkable. We then bought a filter but that did not work. Finally, we came to know about the mosque's tube-well and have been getting water from here for the last one year."
Wasa's water is okay for bathing and other uses but not for drinking, said Morjina Begum, a resident of West Tejturibazar.
The deep tube-well opens for the public after Asr prayers and continues till 10:00pm daily, Mojibur Rahman, a staff of West Tejturibazar Jame Mosque, told The Daily Star.
"It costs over Tk 50,000 monthly to provide the water. The mosque authority bears the costs, and over thousands of people are benefitting."
This newspaper visited several houses and asked property owners about Wasa's water issue.
Several landlords said they have communicated with Wasa but were informed that a pipe leakage due to construction work might be behind the problem.
Wasa suggested property owners check their pipelines and clean the buildings' reserve water tank. However, the situation did not improve over the years, claimed locals.
Shamim Hasan, councillor of Dhaka North City Corporation's (DNCC) Ward-26, told The Daily Star that he knows people from far away go to the mosque for drinking water.
"I will talk with NGOs, so that a tube-well can be set up in the area," he added.
He, however, declined to comment about Wasa's water.
Contacted, Jayanta Saha, executive engineer of Wasa's Zone-3, told this newspaper, "We got some complaints recently about smelly water. It is actually due to chlorine present in the water. It is not harmful."
The dry season might also be behind the issue, he said. "We are eagerly waiting for rainfall, and hopefully, the smell will stop after that."
Jayanta further said that he would send a team to West Tejturibazar to check the water, as the smell can also be due to pipeline leakage.
"I will then send the sample to the laboratory for tests to check the actual cause," he added.