Every month, councillors of Dhaka North City Corporation hold a meeting at Nagar Bhaban in Gulshan to discuss various issues of their wards. The meetings are headed by DNCC Mayor Md Atiqul Islam.
As per rules, councillors from all 54 wards and the mayor have to attend the meetings. But at least 14 public representatives are not attending those regularly.
According to article 13 of the Local Government Act (City Corporation Act) 2009, if mayors or councillors remain absent at three consecutive monthly meetings without any appropriate reason, they will be removed from their position.
However, the councillors are still holding their posts.
To address the issue, DNCC sent show-cause notices to 14 councillors this week. Among them, four are from reserved seats.
The reserved-seat councillors are: Begum Meherunnesa Haq (ward 3), Khaleda Bahar Beauty (ward 7), Alea Sarwar Daisy (ward 12) and Elora Parvin (ward 16).
Others are: Kazi Jahirul Islam Manik (ward 3), Abdur Rauf (ward 5), Razzob Hossain (ward 6), Md Nasir (ward 20), Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (ward 25), Shamim Hassan (ward 26), Md Nurul Islam Ratan (ward 29), Md Shafiqul Islam (ward 31), Taimur Reza (ward 36) and Motaleb Mia (ward 47).
From March 1, 2018 to October 16, 2019, DNCC held 12 board meetings.
During this period, the ward-3 councillor skipped seven meetings at a stretch, ward-5 councillor attended just three meetings, and ward-6 councillor only one. The ward-25 councillor missed nine out of 12 meetings and ward-26 councillor missed 10.
The ward-31 councillor did not attend any meeting.
This correspondent spoke to a number of councillors over the issue. They alleged that though they attended the meetings, DNCC staffers forgot to include their names in the attendance sheet.
They complained that they get to know about the events two to three days ahead of time, which creates problems as they have prior appointments with stakeholders, scheduled a month ago.
Contacted, Councillor Abdur Rauf said, “I regularly attend meetings. However, I’m a heart patient and could not join several of them recently.” When asked if he had received the notice, he said, “Yes, I have. I’ll reply within next week.”
Councillor Mujibur Rahman also said he could not attend meetings due to illness.
Meanwhile, some councillors do not even know the rules regarding meetings. Even those who attended regularly are not much aware of it.
Councillor Afsar Udddin Khan (ward-1), who only skipped once, said, “I only knew if a councillor skips meetings for three consecutive times, he or she gets a show cause notice.”
Councillor Shafiqul Islam of the newly-added ward-39 said, “I’m not sure about the exact rules... but everyone should attend [meetings] regularly.”
Contacted, Local Government Division Deputy Secretary (City Corporation) Foyzul Haque said, “Mayor is the head of city corporation. If he thinks that a councillor is not attending meetings for no good reason and violating the existing law, he can submit a written complaint to the ministry [LGD]. The ministry will take steps.”
Mayor Atiqul Islam said, “People have selected the councillors as their representatives, but they are not attending meetings regularly. It’s not acceptable.”
“More than 90 percent [councillors] attend meetings, but some do not, and it has come to my attention. I have already sent notices to the absentees. We will take action against them as per law,” added the mayor.