Structures of various shapes and sizes, many of which are unfinished, surround a pond, filled with murky black water.
The waterbody is also covered by aquatic plants, and has become a waste-dumping hotspot for locals. In addition, human excreta are being directly discharged into the pond through pipes from the surrounding residences, where around 500 families reside.
This is not a scenario of a remote or rural area in the country. The area is part of Dhaka, known as South Manda under Mugda Police Station, home to around 6,000 people.
According to the residents, once the pond's owner decides to fill it up, they will start looking for a new waterbody to dispose of waste.
This is how more than 2,000 families in the area have been taking care of their waste management issues for more than four years.
Moreover, most of the narrow roads in the area are not carpeted or suitable for traffic movement and pedestrians' use.
Deprived of basic civic amenities, residents are resorting to pollution, and constructing narrow and uneven earthen roads on their own.
Most of the area used to be under water. It started developing back in 2010, according to locals.
“Our area became a part of Dhaka South City Corporation one year ago. Still, we are being deprived of our basic needs,” said Mohammad Ali, a homeowner who has been living there since 2014.
“The roads remain muddy as water cannot recede for lack of drainage system. The situation worsens during rainy season,” he added.
Ahmed Ali, president of Bait-ul-Falah Jame Mosque and Orphanage, said, “Vehicles often get stuck in mud. At times, drivers refuse to enter the area or charge exorbitant amount.”
“Homeowners built the roads themselves with little to no help from the authorities concerned,” he alleged.
But the problems do not end there.
Residents are also facing gas crisis. They rely on cylinders as they do not have any gas lines yet.
Homeowner Arafat Rahman said, “Our house was completed three years back, but we moved here last year, hoping that the situation would improve. It, however, remains the same.”
South Manda used to be under Manda Union Parishad. Though it became a part of DSCC more than one year ago, the area is being maintained jointly by the union parishad and DSCC.
Contacted, Manda UP Chairman Almas Hossain said, “The area is under our union parishad. We do not have enough budget to set up sewage lines or build roads.”
“While we need crores of taka for the area's development, we only get paltry amounts from the government,” he said.
The UP chairman said some parts of the roads were constructed with locals' help, and DSCC is working with them to set up sewage lines.
South Manda is next to Maniknagar (ward-7) under DSCC and its residents address it as East Maniknagar Balur Math. They get electricity from Dhaka Power Distribution Company and water from Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.
A small portion of the area falls in Maniknagar, while the majority is under Manda.
Contacted, Maniknagar Councillor Abdul Basit Khan Bacchu said, “A small part of the area [South Manda] is under my ward. I'll take necessary steps to improve the area.”
“The area shares border with union parishad so it used to be a problem to coordinate development works among the two authorities. As it is now under DSCC, it will receive amenities provided by the city corporation,” he assured.
HOW SOUTH MANDA BECAME PART OF DSCC
In 2017, the local government, rural development and cooperatives ministry issued a gazette notification and formed 36 wards in 16 union councils under the two city corporations.
Following that, South Manda became a part of DSCC.
By-polls to the wards were scheduled to be held on February 26, 2018. But the polls could not be held as the HC stayed the election schedule for six months, following three writ petitions that challenged legality of the schedule.
This year, the HC cleared way for holding the polls. Though South Manda became part of a new ward last year, its councillor post is vacant as there has not been any election yet.