May 16, 2011

Dhaka City Flood Problem: Who has what authority …

Dhaka is a most densely populated city in the face of the world. Excessive population is causing all sorts of water related problems. Several authorities are the responsible to address for this problem.

Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA): DWASA is responsible for supply of water within greater Dhaka (including Narayangonj) and maintain the drainage system (storm-water and sewerage). As of 2006, DWASA has not covered 100% of its existing areas with provision for sewage lines. This has restricted its ability to reduce water pollution. Many industries have been illegally connecting their emission outlets with sewage lines and therefore reducing its ability to clean-up the sewage water in their central treatment facilities. Note that liquid industrial wastes are not supposed to be cleaned up by DWASA. The Environment Cell of DWASA is very small and is not fully equipped to analyse the pollutions and suggest averting actions at the source. WASA has the legal authority to close untreated water outlets if it threatens the city water supply system. So far, it has not done so. 

The WASA Act 1996, Clause 50 and the Statute, following activities are considered a criminal act and are punishable by the clause 52. 

a) Any connection with the WASA sewage lines without permission.
b) Disposal of harmful wastes in the sewage system.
c) Changes in the sewage lines without permission.
d) To use water source of WASA for bathing animals, or for washing materials that would make the water unusable for human use.
e) To throw or keep solid or liquid wastes (willingly or unwillingly) in such a way that would degrade the water supply sources of WASA.
f) Failure to construct latrines, urinals, drains, waste disposal system in such a way to stop polluting the water sources of WASA even after warnings from WASA 
g) Failure to repair, clean-up or close waste sources that is declared harmful to human health and the environment according to Clause 52 of the Act, such activities are punishable acts and there is provision for imprisonment up to a year and up to 15000 taka for violation.

Dhaka City Corporation: Dhaka City Corporation is responsible for licensing industrial units within its limits, solid waste management, and management of open spaces (rivers, lakes, play grounds and other open spaces). This authority issues licenses to establish new industries in their area and in some cases this might push pollution level beyond the ambient limit prescribed under ER1997. Dhaka City Corporation issues licenses after receiving the fees. No authority can monitor any plant which is authorized by DCC in terms of proper management of the open spaces. DCC is also responsible for the open drains. 

Department of Environment: The jurisdiction of DoE is the whole country and they are mandated to monitor, certify and also implement provisions of Environment Act 1995. DoE has been working more on implementation of environmental programs of the country rather than environmental auditing and monitoring.

EIA – which is a requirement for establishment of new industries (classified under ER 1997) – has not been done properly and most of these reports are not 'public'.
Implementation of Environmental Certification requirement for classified existing industries are not implemented due to

a) Lack of motivation in the department to carry out this provision of the regulation, 
b) Lack of technically qualified staff in DoE.

DoE is the legal entity to certify that standards are violated as per the ER1997 and therefore, other agencies cannot start processing punitive actions against any organization unless DOE is also agreeing with them. DOE is responsible for:

a) Declaring the EQS for air, water, noise, soil and other elements of the general environment and would regulate the activities of the industries in order to protect the environment.
b) Declaring the standard for disposal of wastes from industrial units, 
c) Developing preventive and curative measures to reduce environmental pollution 
d) And providing clearance certificates for industries.

City Development Authority (RAJUK): RAJUK is responsible for maintenance of an urban environment. Most of the functions of the RAJUK have been to establish new townships, certify new constructions and provisioning of system of roads, parking, parks, etc. in urban areas. They have a detail area plan fro Dhaka city named "Detail Area Plan (DAP)". DAP is a guideline of the controlled development of Dhaka city though they do not have environment cell that provides policy guidelines on establishment of townships in terms of its impact on urban environment.

Environment Court: Environment Court is only available in Dhaka. Except in Dhaka no other courts have been established yet. According to the Act, DG, DoE is expected to file cases against violators to this court. The provisions of the act are weak and so it has been very difficult for NGOs and CSOs to initiate PILs in this court. As a result, PILs are mostly processed in the High Court.

Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB): BWDB is responsible for maintenance of water bodies and provisioning of water for economic uses like irrigation, fisheries, etc. Very few cases have been filed in this court. BWDB have established environment cell but is still weak in implementing provisions of the ER1997.

[1] Matthew Chadwick and Anjan Datta Water Resource Management in Bangladesh Department of International Development
[2] Institute of Water Modelling Industrial Environmental Compliance and Pollution Control in Greater Dhaka – Phase I Dhaka
[3] Khondoker Golam Tawhid Causes and Effects of Water Logging in Dhaka City Institute of Water Modelling (2004), Stockholm
[4] Institute of Water Modelling Study on Drainage Master Plan for Dhaka City and Area, Final Report, Dhaka
[5] Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) Detailed Area Plan For Dhaka Metropolitan DevelopmentPlanning (Dmdp) Area Final Plan, Dhaka
 [6] Water Resources Plannign Organisation (WARPO) National Water Management Plan August (2000), Main Report, Dhaka
[7] Akter, Brouwer, Chowdhury and Aziz Introducing a Micro-Flood Insurance Market in Bangladesh: Institutional Design and Commercial Viability (2007), Dhaka
[8] Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Gender Statistics of Bangladesh 2008, Dhaka