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22nd-Sep-2020

Reappointing present MD meant retaining corruption in WASA

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THE Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority board on Sunday sent a proposal to the Local Government Ministry for reappointing Taqsem A Khan as DWASA managing director for another term amid criticism due to corruption allegations against him. The board's acting chairman Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin stated that majority members of the board were in favour of the sixth extension for Taqsem for his 'activities'. At least four board members, out of 10, opposed the move to extend Taqsem's job for another three years at a special meeting on Saturday, said the members.
Taqsem A Khan has led a magical life at DWASA. From his initial appointment to his subsequent reappointments --- none have been without controversy. There are extensive allegations of corruption against the WASA MD, including inflating project costs, appointing contractors in keeping with a syndicate, bribery, creating posts to appoint his own people, making any official he disliked an OSD (officer on special duty) and so on. The ACC last year sent a report to the Ministry, identifying 11 corruption-ridden sectors in WASA.
According to the ACC report, WASA's projects did not end within the scheduled time. The term and the costs of various projects were increased. In many cases, the projects were not implemented in keeping with the project design and description. Conditions were enforced in the selection of consultants and contractors so that only a limited number of contractors could compete. Also, syndicates, political clout and bribery were rampant in the appointment of contractors. The ACC report said that there was extensive corruption in setting up deep tubewells, in meter reading and in revenue collection.
WASA's main responsibilities include ensuring uninterrupted water supply, a functioning sewerage system and prevention of water-logging. After Taqsem A Khan took charge, in 2010 a programme called 'Turn around Dhaka WASA' was taken up ostensibly to improve the organisation's service. Ten years hence, there has been no improvement in service, the people are extremely dissatisfied and water-logging has increased.
The quality of water supply is not the same all over Dhaka city. In the dry season many areas face acute water crisis. The quality of water is questionable too, but the price of water has gone up at least 13 times over the past 12 years. Water that cost Tk 5.75 in 2009, now costs Tk 14.46.WASA records show that there is no sewerage system in 80 per cent of the Dhaka. The city is submerged in water at the slightest rainfall. WASA has turned around in such a matter that even the road in front of its head office is waterlogged during the rains. Why should then, such a person be re-appointed --- on what grounds? For increasing the costs of water?