Monday, June 24, 2024

Dhaka Mayor challenges slicing of city corporation


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Dhaka: Outgoing Dhaka Mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka on Wednesday moved the High Court challenging the slicing of the city corporation under a Bangladesh government decision, claiming that it was in defiance of Constitution.

“The Constitution marks Dhaka as Bangladesh’s capital (and so) there is no point splitting it in such a manner. I have sought the High Court intervention to overturn the decision,” Khoka told newsmen at the court complex after filing the writ petition.

He filed the petition a day after Parliament passed a bill to split the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) into two entities to provide better governance, despite protests by the opposition parties and governance experts.

Only lawmakers from the ruling Awami League were present as Parliament endorsed it with voice votes, passing the Local Government (City Corporation) (Amendment) Bill 2011, which also includes a provision for holding polls within 90 days of the bifurcation.

Lawyers of Khoka, a senior leader of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), filed the petition before a two-member bench comprising judges Farid Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Arif.

The court is set to hear the petition, a counsel of Khoka told PTI, adding that leading jurist Kamal Hossain would appear for the mayor at the court.

BNP has threatened to wage tough street protests, with its chief, former premier Khaleda Zia, set to chair an emergency meeting to sketch protest plans, BNP sources said. Khoka and the councillors of the corporation will cease to hold offices soon after a gazette on the bill is published. BNP earlier claimed that the government went ahead with the move fearing the ruling Awami League would lose the next mayoral polls under the one city corporation as the opposition was likely to field Khoka again as their candidate, considering his “massive popularity”.

“You don’t need to slice the corporation … I will not contest the next DCC elections,” Khoka told a press conference last week.\

Local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam on Tuesday said the government planned to appoint two interim “administrators” for the two DCCs by next week to carry out the tasks of the mayor until the election to the municipal body is held in next 90 days.

“The population of Dhaka city has increased to more than one crore. In this situation, it is very difficult to provide services for the huge population by one city corporation. The city inhabitants are not getting the desired services and civic amenities,” read the Parliamentary bill justifying the split.

BNP lawmakers continue to boycott Parliament as part of their anti-government campaign. More than 400-year old Dhaka found its first formal municipal body Dhaka Municipality in 1864 while its status was elevated as City Corporation in 1978. The area of the City Corporation at present is about 360 square kilometres.

The government decision to divide DCC also sparked violent protests as its employees two days ago clashed with armed police. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government last month decided to slice the corporation to extend better civic services to the residents.

But most local government experts and governance analysts said the decision was unlikely to yield the expected result while BNP called it a decision of “narrow political convenience” to defeat the opposition’s nominee for the mayoral post in the next election. (PTI)


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