Land grabbers blamed for filling up wetlands
Groundwater level around the capital has fallen drastically because of indiscriminate filling of the wetlands, said Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen. “The land grabbers are responsible for sharp fall in the groundwater level around the capital due to filling up of the canals and rivers, resulting in depletion of water and putting pressure on water supply. The government has taken initiatives to help improve the situation,” the minister noted at a discussion meeting held in the city’s BIAM auditorium on Saturday.
Bangladesh Water Integrity Network (BAWIN) with the help of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) arranged the discussion.
Among others, Deputy Managing Director of Dhaka WASA SDM Quamrul Islam and Executive Director of TIB Dr Iftekharuzzaman also spoke at the meeting.
Executive Chairman of the Water Environment Institute Engineer M Inamul Haque and former Managing Director of DWASA Dr Khondaker Azharul Haque presented keynote papers on supply of water and its transparency.
The government has taken initiative to dredge 162 kilometres of rivers in order to preserve water, Ramesh Sen disclosed, saying the country’s food production would increase with the dredging of the rivers.
It would also help reduce import of food and dependence on foreign debts.
He further said the government has continued its efforts to ensure use of surface water by raising the level removing imbalances in their flow.
Taking part in the discussion, SDM Quamrul Islam said, “We have to lay importance on using surface water, because groundwater is no longer enough to ensure supply for the city dwellers.”
The WASA cannot supply necessary water to its city consumers due to acute load shedding of electricity, the deputy chief of WASA said.
Islam said additional fund is required for installation of more sewerage treatment plants to purify water.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said corruption and irregularities dominate the water supply against its demand, depriving
the poor. “There is no alternative but to improve the services and ensure transparency, honesty and accountability. The government has to remove illegal structures from the wetlands and rivers surrounding the city in order to ensure smooth supply of water,” the TIB executive director said.
He also demanded of the government to consider opinions of different stakeholders and their suggestions before declaring the draft of the proposed ‘National Water Act’.
According to DWASA sources, it is producing 217 crore litres of water on an average daily against the demand for about 220 crore litres.
At present, there are 612 water pumps in the city while 204 of them have dual connections and 433 have permanent generators. The authorities also have 60 mobile generators to tackle emergencies.
-With The Independent input