DWASA sitting on major city canal re-excavation project

It fails to spend even a penny though life of project expires in December next

FHM Humayan Kabir | Thursday, 13 June 2019

Work on a Tk. 6.0 billion project designed to re-excavate five important canals in different locations of Dhaka city is yet to start though the tenure of the project is due to expire in December next.
The Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) has been entrusted with the task of implementing the project that aims to rid a vast area of serious problem of water-logging.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project more than a year back.
The project titled "Land acquisition and excavation of Hazaribagh, Baishteki, Kurmitola, Manda and Begunbari canals" was due to be completed by December this year.
But the DWASA, a public sector utility agency, according to sources, has failed to spend even a single penny from the project fund until March last.
WASA officials said they have started work on the acquisition of the earmarked land for widening the canals included in the project.
"Nearly 2-3 weeks ago, we have sent our land acquisition requirement to the land ministry. The ministry will first make an on the spot assessment and then ask the Deputy Commissioner's office of Dhaka district to acquire the land in question," Project Director Md. Abdul Waset told the FE.
"We will give necessary funds to the DC office for the purpose', he added.
Following public outcry over the problem of water-logging, the government had taken the initiatives to excavate five important canals located in Hazaribagh, Baishteki, Kurmitola, Manda and Begunbari.
The project will benefit nearly 3.0 million people directly in the capital city, WASA officials said.
When asked about the delay in project implementation, Mr Waset said that acquisition of land is taking some extra time.
"We are hopeful that the land ministry would approve our land acquisition plan expeditiously and then will send the same to the Dhaka DC office, he added.
Then we can start the excavation works at the five canals, Mr Waset said.
Meanwhile, the government has so far released an amount of Tk125 million from the project fund.
But the DWASA has failed to spend even a single penny until March last from that amount, officials said.
Mr Waset said they might seek extension of the project deadline from the Planning Commission.
Development analysts Mr Dr Selim Raihan said, in most of the cases, the government agencies make delay in project implementation which leads to hike in project cost and extension of execution time.
In the Revised Annual Development Programme (RADP) for the outgoing (FY), the government allocated Tk 65 million for the canal project.
Besides, the government has allocated Tk 3.0 billion in the next FY2020 ADP for the canal excavation projects.
After repeated attempt, the FE could not talk with the DWASA Managing Director Engr. Taqsem A Khan to get his comment on the project.