The High Court on Wednesday ordered the authorities to submit a report stating how much money Dhaka Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan had taken in the last 13 years as salary, bonus and other benefits.
Besides, the court issued a ruling asking as to why the government's inaction in removing the official should not be declared illegal, and proper steps should not be taken to remove him.
The Dhaka Wasa board chairman will have to submit the pay report within the next 60 days, as the defendants – local government secretary, Dhaka Wasa board, Wasa chairman and Wasa managing director – will have to respond to the ruling within four weeks.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Kazi Mohammad Izarul Haque Akand passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
The court also wanted to know why the Wasa managing director's pay should not be ordered to be fixed as per the National Pay Scale-2015 until he is removed.
"We applied to the court seeking submission of the report within the next 60 days, and the court has approved it today [Wednesday]," Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, who moved for the writ in the court, told reporters.
According to the Wasa Act, the managing director is the chief executive officer of the organisation.
Taqsem was first appointed to the post in 2009. Despite controversies and criticisms, his tenure has been extended six times. At present, he receives Tk6.25 lakh per month as salary and allowances.
From sherbet to home office – criticisms pour in
In 2019, Taqsem A Khan rejected a Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) report that suggested city residents have to burn gas worth Tk332.37 crore per annum in order to make the supplied water drinkable.
He claimed that Wasa water supplied in Dhaka is hundred percent drinkable according to the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline.
His remark caused a stir. A citizen rights activist appeared at the Wasa office and offered the Wasa managing director a glass of sherbet made by Wasa water.
Taqsem refused to drink it, and said the water could get contaminated due to supply line leakages and accumulated dirt in household reserve tanks.
In 2021, the official travelled to the US and did office virtually for four months. But he took approval for three months. This year, he again applied for the US trip and virtual office work, which eventually got rejected.
In the last 13 years since the ruling Awami League came to power in 2009, Dhaka WASA has increased water prices 14 times. Water price was hiked by 31% in the last two years despite the pandemic fallout.
But the Wasa managing director early this year said the gap between production cost and water price was huge. His organisation still had to pay Tk10 subsidy per 1,000 litres of water.
Recently, Dhaka Wasa declared Tk19 crore incentives to all of its officers and employees as "Performance Award". The announcement roped in the High Court as the court postponed the incentives for three months.