WASA must urgently comply with HC directives
Last Monday, the High court issued a warning to Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to implement its order to stop polluting Buriganga River in a month time.
Back in 2010, the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) filed a writ with the High Court, seeking an order to stop the pollution of the Buriganga due to the waste dumped into the river from the city's Shyampur industrial area. Later in 2011, in response to the writ, the court ordered the WASA's MD to stop dumping waste into the Buriganga within six months. But the order was never implemented.
It is unfortunate that WASA did not comply with the HC directive given on June 1, 2011 to seal off all the sewage outlets into the Buriganga within one year. The river would have been at a much cleaner and better condition.
However, after 8 years on December 2, 2019, Dhaka WASA's MD had submitted a report to the High Court saying that there were 67 underground drains and sewerage lines connected to Buriganga River. However, the state-run agency failed to implement the order and took more time for taking action. The HC issued a warning to the MD and asked him to properly implement the directives and submit a compliance report as soon as possible, but to no avail. Additionally, the court said WASA's MD has been violating his commitment and is delaying compliance with the directives by submitting different affidavits and seeking time from the court. The MD's apparent tricks to evade HC directives is mysterious and a stark insult to rule of law in the country.
Over the years repeated negligence of WASA authority clearly shows how irresponsibly it has been operating. Its long history of negligence comes at a high cost, and especially when it comes to protecting our rivers.
Buriganga has been polluted beyond limits because for WASA's rampant dumping of industrial waste for decades. We are repeatedly failing to protect our rivers, as it is observed when we look at their fast deteriorating conditions, particularly Buriganga and its connected rivers.
We, however, fail to understand why is it taking so long to seal the WASA-run sewerage lines? Thanks to the HC for becoming stricter with the issue. Hopefully this time the WASA will act fast and responsibly.
Lastly, Buriganga is choking, as well as the other connected rivers. It is therefore crucial that the authorities take necessary steps to address this situation. Collaborative engagement is also essential. WASA must entirely comply with the orders of the HC this time. Continued disregard for the court orders cannot be tolerated. We want to see the Buriganga clean and breathing again.