Problems bound to creep up | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 29, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 29, 2011

Dhaka-split Row

Problems bound to creep up

Warn leading personalities

The split of the capital into two city corporations will make its development planning more complicated, say urban planners and eminent citizens.
They say the government move that is inconsistent with the country's constitution would eventually fail to fulfil its main objective -- delivering better civic services to city residents.
The government has decided to divide Dhaka City Corporation into two parts -- north and south, with the creation of an additional mayoral office. However, no changes will be made to the agencies that are providing utility services in the capital.
Prof Sarwar Jahan, president of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said from urban planning perspective, it was a wrong move to split the city, a complete entity.
It would multiply problems, and fail to deliver better civic services, he said.
If two corporations make development plans for the same city without any changes in utility service providers, it will result in a messy situation, said Jahan.
It would also create administrative complications in the matter of coordinating development plans for transport, and water, electricity and gas supply, and drainage, sewerage and other services, he said.
Urban experts say nearly 50 agencies are involved in development work in the capital.
Sultana Kamal, former adviser to caretaker government and a human rights activist, said the move to amend the existing law to run the corporation with unelected administrators goes against the spirit of the local government institution as enshrined in the constitution.
She said only by dint of parliamentary majority, the ruling party should not pass any law that may go against the spirit of the constitution. An issue of a fundamental change like this should have been placed both in parliament and public domain for debate as required in a democratic system.
Better civic service is not conditional on such a split, it rather depends on service-oriented mindset, efficiency, transparency and accountability of the institution, she said.
Noted economist Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said mere split of jurisdiction would not guarantee better civic service, as the city corporation still depends on the LGRD ministry for monetary allocations and project approval.
Tofail Ahmed, a researcher on local government, and former member of Local Government Commission, said the DCC is a centralised institution with its all-powerful mayor at the helm. It cannot deliver better service at local level while its ward commissioners remain powerless.
Abu Naser Khan, chairman of Paribesh Bachao Andolon, an environmentalist group, said the division would lead to chaos in city governance and waste of public resources.
The two mayors could even face problems in coordinating with each other, he said.
Naser said the government should rather move to bring utility service providers and the metropolitan police under DCC's coordination. Introduction of provisions for deputy mayors could also be a good step towards its decentralisation.
ASM Shahjahan, another former adviser to caretaker government, said once the split is done, the situation would get worse in respect of coordination, since utility service providers like Rajuk, Wasa, Titas, Desco, DPDC and the metropolitan police would not be split accordingly.
A bill has been placed in parliament seeking amendment to the city corporation law to accommodate the split of 150-square kilometre metropolitan city with 92 wards. The bill is expected to get through the House today.

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