The government yesterday appointed administrators to 61 zila parishads (district councils); most of them are top Awami League leaders of the districts.
The appointment came about nine months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced in parliament that the government will appoint chairmen to all zila parishads to make the local government stronger.
The LGRD and cooperatives ministry has issued gazette notifications on the appointments. However, no administrators have been appointed in three hill districts yet.
“According to the constitution, a zila parishad should be run by an elected representative. No successive government ever held polls to zilla parishads,” said Zarina Rahman Khan, a professor at Dhaka University public administration department.
Instead of making the local government more powerful, the government is controlling it, she told The Daily Star.
Prof Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Sujan, a civil society platform, said “Appointing administrator is not only the violation of constitution but also goes against a High Court decision.”
He said the HC in a ruling in 1992 asked the government to hold elections to zila parishads. But no government paid heed to it.
During the autocratic rule of HM Ershad, lawmakers were appointed chairmen to zila parishads. With the fall of Ershad's regime, the chairmen, most of whom were MPs from his Jatiya Party, were removed and deputy commissioners were made ex-officio chairmen.
In 2000, the Awami League-led government repealed the Zila Parishad Act, 1988 and passed the current law with a provision for direct polls to zila parishads. But no elections to the parishads have been held so far, allowing bureaucrats to run them.
In its 2008 election manifesto, the party pledged that the district council will be strengthened through decentralisation of power. “The district council will be transformed into centres for implementing programmes on education and health and all other development plans and programmes and for maintenance of law of order,” it said.
The Daily Star talked to some administrators last night. They said they did not know ahead of time that they were about to be appointed as the administrators.
“I had no idea about this appointment. Nobody communicated with me until 3:00pm today [yesterday] when district council office sought my bio-data,” said Suvash Chandra Bose, the Narail district council administrator and also the president of the district AL.
He claimed the government had appointed these administrators on an ad-hoc basis.
Shah Hadiuzzaman, Jessore district council administrator and also the vice president of the district AL said, first he came to know about the appointment from television.
Those, who have been appointed, include Abu Bakar Siddique in Panchagarh, Sadek Koraishi in Thakurgaon, Azizul Imam Chowdhury in Dinajpur, Motajul Islam in Nilphamari, Motiar Rahman in Lalmonirhat, Rezina Razzak in Rangpur, Maj Gen (retd) Amsa Amin in Kurigram, Syed Shamsul Alam Hiru in Gaibandha, SM Solaiman Ali in Joypurhat, Mokbul Hossain in Bogra, Mainuddin Mondol in Chapainawabganj, Fazley Rabbi in Naogaon, Mahbub Jamal Bhulu in Rajshahi, Sajedur Rahman Khan in Natore, Ahmed Majid Mandol in Sirajganj, Saidul Huq Chunnu in Pabna, Miajon Ali in Meherpur, Zahid Hossain Zafor in Kushtia, Maj (retd) Alimuzzaman Zoarder in Chuadanga, Wahed Joarder in Jhenidah, Shah Hadiuzzaman in Jessore, Syed Shariful Islam in Magura, Subas Chandra Bosh in Narail, Sheikh Kamruzzaman Tuku in Bagerhat, Shaikh Harun-or-Rashid in Khulna, Monsur Ahmed in Satkhira, Mohammad Jahangir Kabir in Barguna, Mosharraf Hossain in Patuakhali, Abdul Momin Tulu in Bhola, Mukhlesur Rahman in Barisal, Sarker Mohammad Shah Alam in Jhalakathi, Mohammad Akram Hossain in Pirojpur, Mohammad Fazlur Rahman Faruk in Tangail, Mohammad Shahidullah in Jamalpur, Abdul Halim in Sherpur, Zahirul Haque in Mymensingh, Motiur Rahman in Netrakona, Zillur Rahman in Kishoreganj, Golam Mohiuddin in Manikganj, Mohiuddin Ahmed in Munshiganj, Hasina Doula in Dhaka, Asaduzzaman in Narsingdi, Akhteruzzaman in Gazipur, Abdul Hai in Narayanganj, Akbar Ali Morji in Rajbari, Kazi Joynal Abedin in Faridpur, Kazi Abdur Rashid in Gopalganj, Miajuddin Khan in Madaripur, Mojibur Rahman Master in Shariatpur, Enamul Kabir in Sunamganj, Abu Sufian in Sylhet, Azizur Rahman in Moulvibazar, M Musfiq Hossain Chowdhury in Habiganj, Syed AKM Emdadul Bari in Brahmanbaria, M Omar Faruque in Comilla, Lt Col (retd) Abu Osman Chowdhury in Chandpur, Aziz Ahmed Chowdhury in Feni, ABM Zaforullah in Noakhali, Shahjahan Kamal in Laxmipur, MA Salam in Chittagong, and Mostaq Ahmed in Cox's Bazar.