Politics shouldn’t hinder development: Sylhet Mayor

Mayor Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran of Sylhet City Corporation talks with

DS: What are the major problems of Sylhet city now?
Mayor: Water logging, water crisis, waste management, traffic congestion etc.

DS: What are the steps you have taken to resolve the long standing problems like water logging in the city areas?
Mayor: A 100-crore taka project has been taken up to resolve it. Under the project, the narrow natural canals passing through the city would be recovered from the illegal occupants. The LGED has been financing the project.

DS: How much success you expect in this regard since banks of the canals had been grabbed by influential people for long? Even, there are pucca structures along the banks at places.
Mayor: Although it is a hard job, we are optimistic. Last year, some eviction drives were launched. Moreover, the programme includes, construction of retaining walls and guard walls at places. No doubt, it is a difficult task. Works have started in all places.

DS: But work on the project is suspended now?
Mayor: The works have not been suspended totally. But there has been a shortage of manpower of all categories including magistrates and others. There is shortage of logistic support also. Moreover, some other departments are also involved with the process. The rest of the job will be completed soon.

DS: What about the water crisis?
Mayor: Presently, we can supply about 50 per cent of the demand, as new areas have been brought under the City Corporation. No doubt, we are still nowhere near meeting the huge demand, but we are trying. A Tk 38 crore project has been taken up to resolve the problem. It has already got a pre-ECNEC nod while we expect ECNEC approval soon. Then we would be able to start working on it. The project includes sinking of new deep tube wells, extension of water supply line etc. Under the project, a water treatment plant would also be established at the city's South Surma area at a cost of Taka 28.67 crore.

DS: why things are getting delayed, since these are the most important issues?
Under the existing arrangement, the City Corporation alone cannot do anything. Many agencies or departments are linked with the process. I want the City Corporation be given the responsibility for quick implementation of all development projects.

DS: Traffic congestion is a matter of great concern. It is believed that the number of illegal rickshaws would be not less then 20,000. Why the Corporation is not taking any step in this regard?
Mayor: It is a longstanding problem, although it was not that serious before the formation of the City Corporation. But things would be easier on completion of the works on the two city bypasses. These will keep the city dwellers away from the pressure of vehicles plying on Tamabil - Sylhet-Dhaka and Sunamganj-Sylhet- Dhaka highways. Within months these will be completed. On the other hand, work has been going on for widening some of the city roads. At many places illegally occupied lands are being recovered while people are contributing lands for expanding the roads. These will make a big change in the city soon. We will soon sit to resolve the rickshaw issue. There are illegal rickshaws, on the other hand, the city dwellers do suffer much for shortage of rickshaws at times.

DS: The truckers create a big problem in the city areas. What is your plan in this regard ?
Mayor: Every day, thousands of trucks carry coal, sand, stone and other things from the borders and quarries at Tamabil, Jafflong and Companyganj. The need for a truck terminal had been badly felt here. The constuction of a truck stand had been discussed in meeting at different levels, but nothing significant has yet been done. Even after several decisions, things could not be resolved. The site had also been changed. Recently, we have decided to construct it at the Lalmatia area. Accordingly, Tk 60 lakh has been sanctioned preliminarily for development of the same. During the current dry season work on the project will start.

DS: What is the city corporation's plan on waste management?
Mayor: we are a little behind in this respect. Presently, we do collect the wastes from different areas and dump the same at Lalmatia area. Years ago, a project was started for producing organic fertiliser using the household wastes. The Tower Hamlet Borough Council of London had extended assistance for the same under a twining link, which really initiated a good task. But unfortunately, it didn't make any progress in the end. We are trying to resume the project soon.

DS: what about the development activities in the city areas?
On an average, we have spent Tk one crore for construction of culvert and roads in each of the 27 wards during the last two years and a half i.e since after the City Corporation took over. The elected ward commissioners had ensured the local inhabitants' participation in choosing the projects. On the other hand, sometimes we feel embarrassed as other organisations like the Zilla Parishad, LGED also take up some projects in the Corporation areas. It should not happen. The City Corporation should be the only authority for all sorts of development since it is a directly elected body of the city dwellers. The Zilla Parishad should be given certain works in certain areas other than the city areas. Things should be made clear. On the other hand, the development fund provided by the government is too meagre, whereas we need special allocations since it is a newly formed City Corporation with extended areas.

DS: Do you find any problem as you are from the opposition while the local lawmaker is from the ruling party?
Mayor: We believe politics should not hinder development. Sylhet has been deprived of its minimum and due share from the government for long. The Finance Minister is from greater Sylhet. Naturally, people do expect that some of the major issues will be resolved through him. On the other hand, although I have a political identity of my own, as a mayor I always try to keep myself above politics.

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