The High Court yesterday came down heavily on Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) for not complying with its 2011 directives over sealing all sewerage lines to the Buriganga and for making an untrue statement about sewerage lines connected to the river.
The Dhaka Wasa is responsible for controlling all underground drainage systems in Dhaka city, but it wanted to avoid the responsibility by saying that the Dhaka city corporations are supposed to control the drainage system, the HC said, adding that it would not accept any negligence in discharging duties.
The bench of Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore and Justice Mohammad Ullah made the observation while hearing a writ petition.
On May 4, 2010, rights body, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, filed the petition, seeking immediate steps to prevent water pollution in the Buriganga.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan yesterday unconditionally apologised to the HC bench for making an untrue statement about sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga.
He apologised to the court through lawyer M Nahiyan-Ibn-Subhan saying that there were 16 sewerage lines connected to the river, which were polluting the river.
Nahiyan also represented Wasa lawyer AM Masum before the HC. He said Masum could not appear before the court due to personal issues.
The court refused to hear arguments from Nahiyan in details and said that he had no authority to place arguments instead of the Wasa lawyer.
Writ petitioner’s lawyer Manzill Murshid told the court that the Dhaka Wasa could have sealed off the sources of waste connected to the Buriganga as a part of implementation of the court’s 2011 directives, but it did not do so.
He prayed to the HC bench to issue a contempt of court rule against the Dhaka Wasa MD for not complying with the directives.
Earlier in the day, the Department of Environment (DoE) submitted a report before the HC through its lawyer Amatul Karim, stating that it shut down 18 factories on Buriganga in Dhaka as they were operating without environment clearance certificates.
The HC bench fixed today for passing orders on the issue.
It also asked Dhaka Wasa law officer Zahidul Islam to appear before the court today along with documents of his activities regarding the 2011 directives.
Zahidul appeared before the bench to represent the Dhaka Wasa MD during the court proceedings.
Following the writ petition, the HC on June 1, 2011, directed the government to seal off all sewerage lines to the Buriganga within the next year.
The court had also ordered the authorities to stop dumping waste into the river and declared their inaction in preventing water pollution illegal. The authorities had been directed to clean up the river and move all sources of pollution from there.
On November 17 this year, the HC ordered the DoE to shut down the factories on the Buriganga which were operating without environment clearance certificates.
At the same time, the court asked the Dhaka Wasa MD to explain within 15 days as to why legal action should not be taken against him for making a false statement about sewerage lines connected to the river.
The Dhaka Wasa MD earlier submitted a report, saying there were no sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga and there was no pollution. But BIWTA in a report said there were several sewerage lines connected to the river, which were polluting the river.