A policy decision has been taken to hand over Dhaka canals from Wasa to two Dhaka city corporations, said Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister. Md Tazul Islam.
"The city corporations used to look after the canals. These were subsequently handed over to Dhaka Wasa by presidential order. Now these will be returned to the city authorities again as the two Dhaka mayors have expressed interest in taking charge of the canals," he told a press briefing at the Ministry conference room Thursday.
The Minister said the stakeholders – city corporations and Wasa – have agreed to the handover during a meeting. A technical committee had been formed to develop a smooth handover process.
The committee comprised of eight members from Dhaka North and Dhaka South city corporations, four from Dhaka Wasa and two senior Ministry officials. It will report on the transfer within 30 days, also outlining plans of the two city corporations to maintain the canals.
The Minister said the decision would be finalised in light of that report.
Tazul said Wasa has thus far been responsible for drainage management, cleanliness, and renovation of water bodies in the capital. After taking over the canals, Dhaka North and Dhaka South will perform the same duties.
"They [city corporations] have the human resources, equipment, and all the necessary tools for drainage management. I believe the two mayors are very sincere and can efficiently perform the task," he added.
Responding to a query on the frequent digging of roads in the city, the minister said pipelines need to be set up to provide utility services in the capital. Moreover, the utility networks often need capacity up-gradation, leaving no choice but to dig up the soil on the surface.
He said a meeting with the World Bank had been held to discuss a potential project, which would provide a permanent solution to the utility service networks.
During the press briefing, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam said, "Today is a historic day for us. We, the two mayors, urgently wanted the canals to be handed over to us. Now we will try to mitigate citizens' suffering from waterlogging during the rainy season."
Meantime, Atiqul's counterpart at Dhaka South City Corporation, Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said, "Today we have reached a landmark decision in resolving the long-standing waterlogging issue. Dhaka dwellers have been suffering for more than 30 years due to flooded drainage system in almost every monsoon."
During the meeting, Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Engineer Taqsem A. Khan said, "Wasa received the canals in 1998. Since the start of my tenure at Wasa, I have been advocating for the prompt return of the canals to city authorities."
Earlier in the meeting, the Local Government Minister said that his Ministry and the Mayors have been diligently working in their efforts to make Dhaka a cleaner, modern city. As a result, despite forecasts of a more severe dengue outbreak than last year, dengue cases this are practically nil.
The Minister was hopeful that other pending issues, such as drainage, would also be solved soon.