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Gas worth Tk 332 crore is spent per year by users to make the “undrinkable” water supplied by Dhaka WASA potable, according to a study by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB). Tabling the study at a press meet yesterday, the corruption watchdog said people in most other Asian countries do not need to boil the water supplied by their respective authorities. WASA must take steps in this regard too, it added.


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The TIB study claimed that around 62 per cent of service seekers of Dhaka WASA were victims of some sort of corruption in water supply. Such corruption took place out of mutual convenience because of which identifying the “actual culprit” was difficult, it said. The report said about 86.2 per cent water users gave bribes to WASA staff, while 15.8 per cent users gave bribes to some agents.

Categorically, a user pays somewhere between Tk 200-Tk 30,000 for a new water connection, Tk 300-Tk 4,500 for removing obstacles from the sewerage line, Tk 200-Tk 1,500 for emergency water supply through cars, Tk 1,000-Tk 1,500 for meter reading and bills and Tk 1,00,000-Tk 1,50,000 for digging deep tube wells. The TIB study was based on interviews with 2,768 WASA consumers of 10 zones under Dhaka WASA. About 20.6 per cent consumers said they faced water crisis throughout the year.

The slum areas were the worst affected with about 71.9 per cent of the people there getting no water. In residential areas, 45.8 per cent didn"t get water, 34.9 per cent in commercial areas and 19 per cent in industrial areas didn"t get water as per their demand. On an average, 44.8 per cent WASA consumers didn"t get water as per their demand.

The TIB survey said 51.5 per cent service recipients of WASA reported that the water supplied to them was dirty. About 41.4 per cent of service recipients reported that the water they got through supply lines had a bad smell. Besides, 34.5 per cent service recipients informed that they received bad quality of water all the year round.

According to the season wise experience of consumers, 62.1 per cent complained that the water quality was bad in summer, 59.6 per cent in rainy season and 7.5 per cent in winter.

The TIB report alleged that in many cases, the water ministry directly intervened in the contractual appointments in WASA and these were fraught with nepotism. There were also evidences of nepotism and corruption in providing training to WASA staffers. The study also reported unwarranted intervention from the WASA CBA (collective bargaining agent) in many of its administration activities.

The TIB study found that WASA has a grievance redress centre in each revenue zone and a hotline number in its head office, but there was a gap in the grievances received and the redressal mechanism.

The survey findings revealed that 27.5 per cent users complained about their problems to the WASA offices. Among them, only 2.4 per cent used the Wasa hotline (16162).

Among the complaints lodged, 57.4 per cent pertained to water availability, 32.2 per cent to water quality, 28.5 per cent to bills, 18.9 per cent to the sewerage system and 1.1 per cent to other issues. In response to complaints, 61.5 per cent complainers informed that no solution was provided by the authority, 20.2 per cent reported of timely solution, 16.7 per cent reported that solution took a long time and 6.9 per cent reported that the authority did not receive their complaints.

Speaking at the press conference, TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was equipped to expose the corruption in Dhaka WASA, but the state agency didn"t take any fruitful action in this regard.

On the other hand, WASA officials rejected the TIB charge that over 62 per cent of consumer faced some sort of corruption.

“I don"t know what corruptions they are talking about. We have a very well-equipped hotline to receive customer complaints. We also address those complaints accordingly,” managing director of Dhaka WASA Taqsim A Khan told The Independent.

Asked about the huge amount of money spent by consumers to make WASA supplied water potable, Taqsim said they supply “100 per cent drinkable” water in the pipeline. “We maintain the World Health Organization (WHO) standards for water in our pipeline. In some areas, the water gets dirty because of the pipeline,” he added. Taqsim also said he would look into the TIB report and then arrange a press conference to answer the claims made by the watchdog.

 

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