Three years ago, Wasa boss Taqsem Khan, at a press conference, assured city residents that they can drink water directly from the tap by 2021.
Yesterday, the same Wasa boss backtracked on his earlier comments and advised residents to boil the supply water before drinking it.
In a dialogue organised by the Dhaka Dhaka Water Supply And Sewerage Authority (Wasa) to publicise its ability to supply water, Taqsem also said that the water he received at home also had a foul odour.
A 2019 study by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) had blamed graft and mismanagement at Wasa as a reason behind the perennial problem of poor quality drinking water in the city.
The study further said that around Tk332.37 crores of gas was used to boil water per year.
The results of the finding irked the Wasa boss so much that he immediately called the now infamous press conference, where he blasted the TIB and assured city-dwellers that the tap water was 100% drinkable.
On Tuesday's dialogue titled "Demand of city dwellers-capacity of Dhaka WASA" at Abdus Salam Hall of National Press Club, a much less confident Taqsem appeared, who, while admitting the water was not 100% drinkable, still rubbished allegations that it had anything to do with an increase in diarrhoea or cholera in the city.
He, however, said there were some leakages in certain areas which resulted in the foul smell.
His comments come at a time when the number of diarrhoea patients has been on the rise.
The ICDDRB hospital has seen more than 31,000 diarrhoea patients since the 15th of last month.
On April 4, 1,383 patients were admitted to the hospital, which was a 60-year high, according to the ICDDRB Communication Sources.
Dr Baharul Alam, head of the hospital, told The Business Standard that water was related to diarrhoea, urging everyone to drink boiled water. If that is not possible, then the water should be purified with chlorine tablets and alum.
Diarrhoea patients are being admitted to ICDDRB Hospital from 11 areas of Dhaka including Gandaria, Jatrabari, Dakshin Khan, Tongi, Tejgaon, Mohammadpur and Shanirakhra, he said.
Vindication of sorts
At yesterday's dialogue, the Wasa MD said, "We have contacts with ICDDRB. When they gave us the addresses of the nine outbreaks of diarrhoea, we immediately tested those in the labs of those areas. No where did we find faeces bacteria or E. coli which is harmful for humans. I immediately informed the ICDDRB of the matter.
"Even if there are germs in the water, we add chlorine so that those die or are destroyed," he said.
Mentioning that Wasa was providing pure water, Taqsem said, "It is our responsibility to supply safe water to the tank. It is not our responsibility to take it home to you. That's why we ask you to boil the water."
He said that there were leakages in 4% to 8% of the water lines and some places have foul smelling water.
"However, whenever we receive a complaint, we immediately fix it."
Noting that the water supplied to his home in Naya Paltan also had a foul odour, he said there was nothing to worry about.
As a sort of vindication, the ICDDRB said the Wasa water did not contain diarrhoea germs but germs were found at various places at the consumer level.
The ICDDRB said that this could be due to water line leakage, line problems or because of not cleaning the water tank.
A source at the ICDDRB told TBS that most of the people suffering were low-income earners and often ate street food.
The ICDDRB has also tested the water of WASA's main channel at different times and found it to be of standard.
In April 2019, some residents of the capital went in front of the Wasa building to make the MD drink his own supplied water. They, however, could not meet the MD at the time.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) said that the Wasa MD's statement proves that Wasa is supplying contaminated water and for this the customer can file a case for compensation.
Energy Adviser to CAB Prof Dr M Shamsul Alam, said the Wasa MD's advice proved that the water being supplied was contaminated and the organisation could be sued for providing such water.