The horrific deaths of four individuals, including three members of the same family, by electrocution in a waterlogged part of the capital on September 22, has shocked us. The video that went viral on social media showed a toddler, whose parents perished, being fished out of the water as the dead bodies of his family members, and another person who got electrocuted while trying to save them, drifted towards the kerb, would disturb any sane thinking person's sensibilities. Luckily, he was rushed to hospital and upon treatment, has survived. He is now in the care of his grandparents, orphaned even before he has learned to walk. Will anyone be held answerable?
The electrocution was caused by an electric wire that had fallen on the road, a common sight in many parts of the country, and came in contact with the stagnant water. Truly, the hazards to life in our teeming capital can come from any direction, at almost any time. The capital had recorded some 122 mm of rain from Thursday evening to midnight, in an unbroken six-hour spell or rain. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said it was the highest amount of rainfall recorded this season, however it was nothing extraordinary. For instance, Dhaka recorded 255 mm of rain on October 25 last year.
The end of the shower was not, however, the end to the residents' troubles. A number of roads in the city were submerged for hours. Some areas remained off limits for most of the following Friday as well. Most of the vehicles on the road that night were out of order due to the severe waterlogging.
The main responsibility of resolving the waterlogging problem in the city was officially handed over to the two city corporations December 31, 2020. Previously, WASA was in charge of resolving the waterlogging problem in Dhaka. The city corporations used to blame WASA in case of waterlogging in the city. However, the situation hasn't changed that much. There are some roads under the south city corporation where any sort of rain causes waterlogging. Experts insist the water would recede rapidly if the drainage system is up to the mark. Yet a proper drainage system continues to elude the city's nearly 20 million residents. Under DSCC alone, a total of 136 places have been marked as vulnerable to waterlogging over the past three years, and infrastructures including drains have been constructed in 103 places with construction in the remaining places underway. The agency spent Tk 2.25 billion on this purpose.
Both our city mayors have claimed success in solving the waterlogging problem in the city. While addressing a programme in Wari of the capital just this year, DSCC mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor said, "Water will be drained within 15 minutes even in the case of heavy rains." It sounded galling at the time. Now we know it was just a lot of talk, with no substance. The tragedy is that four individuals had to pay the highest price to prove it.
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