The government has decided in principle to hand over the drainage system of Dhaka city from Wasa to the two city corporations to solve the city's longstanding waterlogging problem.
The decision was taken at a meeting headed by LGRD Minister Md Tazul Islam, in presence of two Dhaka city corporations mayors and Wasa's managing director.
The meeting also formed a 14-member committee, headed Muhammad Ibrahim, additional secretary of Local Government Division.
Sayed Ur Rahman, deputy secretary of the ministry, will be member secretary of the committee while four members each from the two city corporations and Wasa will be included as well.
"The committee will submit its report within a month and then we will move forward to the handing over the drainage system after considering all the aspects like the legal side," said Tazul Islam.
He said that though it is the mandate of the two city corporations to solve the water logging problem of Dhaka city, the work was handed over to Wasa long before through an order of the president.
Now logistics, manpower and many other things will have to be discussed about how it will be handed over to the city corporations, he said.
A few weeks ago, Muhammad Ibrahim, additional secretary of Local Government Division, told The Daily Star that to hand it over, there is a matter of budget. A full set up of manpower and equipment will have to be handed over to the corporations.
If Wasa sends the whole department to the city corporations, then some questions will arise regarding the staffers' salaries and promotions, as most are permanent staffers of Wasa, while many of the city corporation staffers work on a deputation basis, he said.
The idea of handing over the drainage management to city corporations came to light in July when the two mayors -- Dhaka South's Shekih Fazle Noor Taposh and Dhaka North's Atiqul Islam -- said they wished to take over the job.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul told the Daily Star on November 11 that the corporation has started to recover river land from encroachers and will similarly have to recover canals from encroachers gradually.
"We have to establish proper authority over canals and water bodies, including their infrastructure, manpower, technical know-hows, human resource and budget, to do the job," he said.
Contacted, mayor Taposh recently said, "As you know we have started cleaning some water bodies like Khilgaon Jheel, Kalunagar Canal, Shyampur Canal, and Dhanmodi lake irrespective of the authorities concerned. We will also maintain these water bodies by revitalising the flow of water, as the citizens have been suffering from waterlogging for a long time."
He said he wants people to know that the corporations are asking for total authority from all custodians.
According to experts, just changing the custodian without addressing the core issues that has failed Wasa -- such as the absence of total authority of one particular body and lack of coordination with six other organisations -- might also fail the two city corporations.
Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, said apart from handing over manpower and logistics, Rajuk will have to engage the city corporations in the action plan and implementation in line with the Detailed Area Plan and there should be a law for this.
The water bodies and canals that are owned by the deputy commissioner's office will have to be leased out to the city corporations for management.
Besides, the Bangladesh Water Development Board also will have to set up pumps according to the plan of the city corporations.
A gazette notification will have to be issued so that BWDB does its job through a separate department while coordinating with the corporations.
Finally, an integrated master plan will have to be made to solve the problem and it will have to be executed properly, Habib concluded.