Will increase in 5-category
Zarif Mahmud: Dhaka WASA has increased the price of water 14 times in the last 14 years. This time also started the process of increasing the price. The company has completed the technical survey for this. Now it’s time to make a decision. Analysts say that already inflation is sitting on everyone’s neck, if the price of water is increased, the situation to be worsen further. Cost of living will increase further. Everything will be negatively affected.
According to Dhaka Wasa sources, they have taken some kind of policy decision regarding increasing the price of water. New prices will be announced after some process is completed.
It is known that the price of water will be determined by dividing the customers of the capital into five categories.
WASA will provide water at different prices to five classes – lower, lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class and upper class. Building Code-2000 will be followed for pricing. That is, the squarer feet the person lives in, the higher the bill will be.
In the meantime, the organization has conducted a technical study on the area-wise determination of water prices. It is also proposed to divide the customers into five categories and determine the price. Area-wise housing rates, house tax, National Building Code and monthly income are taken into consideration while determining the price.
An official who was associated with Dhaka Wasa’s technical survey told, on condition of anonymity, that those living in 2,500 square feet houses have been defined as upper class. Those living in houses less than 1500 to 2500 square feet are upper middle class. Those living in houses less than 1000 to 1500 square feet are middle class and those living in houses less than 1000 square feet are lower class. And slum dwellers are considered as low-income people.
It is reported that the price of water has been proposed to increase by 24 to 147 percent compared to the current price.
Dhaka WASA claims that the cost of production is much higher than the price at which the customer is currently getting water. Water is being provided at consumer level through subsidy. At present, every 1000 liters of water, Dhaka WASA has to pay a subsidy of about Tk 10. Basically, it is proposed to increase the price of water to reduce the subsidy. According to section 22 (2) of the WASA Act 1996, the WASA Board may adjust the water and sewage charges every year.
Earlier, Dhaka Wasa came under criticism for its decision to increase the price of water several times. After various criticisms, it was said by WASA that water price adjustment is a routine process of WASA. According to the Dhaka WASA Act, water prices are only partially adjusted for inflation. The power to increase and decrease the water price is entirely vested in the WASA Board under the WASA Act, 1966. Dhaka WASA follows this process every year in order to provide fair, sustainable and improved customer service to the city dwellers.
At present, residential customers of Dhaka Wasa have to pay Tk 15.18 per 1000 liters of water. According to the new proposed price, the cost of every 1000 liters of water will be Tk18.75 for the lower class. The price will be Tk 25 for middle class, Tk 31.25 for upper middle class and Tk37.50 for upper class. However, it is said that the previous price may remain for the low-income people i.e. the slum dwellers.
On the other hand, commercial customers of Dhaka Wasa currently have to pay Tk 42 per 1000 liters of water. According to the new proposal, they will have to pay more.
At present Dhaka WASA customers are about 43 lakh 88 thousand. About 10 thousand new customers are created every year. 11.5 percent of Wasa’s total customers are commercial customers.
Dhaka WASA Managing Director (MD) Taksim A Khan and Dhaka WASA Deputy Managing Director (Management & Maintenance) AKM Sahid Uddin were contacted several times to inquire about the new water price increase, but their statements were not available. Other officials concerned also refused to talk about it.
An official of Dhaka WASA, on condition of anonymity, said that it has only been proposed to increase the price of water in the new system. This will be discussed with all concerned. Dhaka WASA is in favor of increasing the water price in a new way, depending on the area and considering the financial capacity. Aspects will be considered so as not to cause too much trouble to the customers.
President of Bangladesh Institute of Planners and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Department of Jahangirnagar University Adil Muhammad Khan told that Dhaka WASA wants to impose unreasonable prices on customers. Dhaka Wasa is already charging more water than other Wasas. Then the proposal to increase the price again is unreasonable. No additional burden should be imposed on rich or poor. Their new approach is illogical and lacks transparency.
The matter was discussed with Shaheen Ahmed, the owner of a house in Bansree D Block of the capital. He criticized the plan of Dhaka WASA and said that during hot season we do not get proper WASA water. Water is not available even with money. Even then, you have to pay the bill every month. Currently, the price we pay for water is very high. The proposal to raise prices again is unreasonable and arbitrary. What do we do if the price of water increases in the midst of rising commodity prices?
Mohiuddin Ahmed, the convener of Bangladesh General Civil Society told, “Last time, when Dhaka WASA wanted to increase the price of water, we protested. Later they withdrew from that decision. Our demand was that the price cannot be increased without ensuring 100% clean water.
He said, WASA authorities told us that lower and upper middle-class areas cannot have the same price. So, a price adjustment is needed. But this does not mean that the overall price will be increased. If prices are increased for all, it will increase the suffering of common citizens in this time of inflation. Therefore, we reject the decision to increase the price without ensuring the accountability of WASA without curbing corruption.
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