Struggle to obtain civic services
Staff Correspondent: Although five years have passed, tens of thousands of residents of 18 wards that were incorporated under the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) cannot yet avail the civic services they are entitled to.
This is despite paying holding tax since 2016, leading to disappointment among them.
Residents alleged they have been asked to keep paying holding tax through letters despite not getting civic services from the city corporation.
Many dwellers said they have been included in the city corporation only in name. They did not get a single service in the last five years.
In a recent visit to some wards under DNCC, the correspondent found that most of the roads in the new wards remain made of earth. There are no streetlights. Footpaths have been turned into dustbins and many illegal establishments have been constructed on both sides of the road. Waterlogging is a common scenario in these wards during rainfall. Local dwellers have been suffering a lot due to a lack of development work.
Md Wahid, an ex-UP member of No.40 ward, said, “We were included in the city corporation five years ago. But the city corporation didn’t do any development work in our ward. Now DNCC has sent letters to the dwellers to pay holding tax which created discontent among the locals. Why will we keep paying holding tax when we did not get civic services from the city corporation? We have been paying it in 2016. This is unfair.”
Another resident of No. 42 ward Mohammad Kiron said, “All roads in our ward get inundated by the rainwater. Our roads need to be repaired to reduce the suffering of the people.”
He also protested the holding tax demanded by the DNCC.
On June 28, 2016, Dhaka North City Corporation had included 18 wards by dissolving 114 square kilometres of Harirampur, Uttar Khan, Dakshin Khan, Badda, Satarkul, and Vatara union parishads adjoining the capital. Five regions were carved out of these wards.
According to DNCC, in July 2020, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved Tk 4,025 crore for the first phase of development works in the new 18 wards. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the development works project in March this year. However, Dhaka North City Corporation didn’t start the development works due to a lack of funds. The government has a plan to run development works in these new wards worth Tk 22,000 crore in the second phase.
Contacted, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam told that Bangladesh Army has been given the contract for the development works in the 18 new wards under the city corporation.
“We have received some amount of allocated money from the state exchequer out of a total of Tk 4,025 crore. The army has already started development works in these areas with this little amount of money,” he added.
Urban expert and Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) general secretary DrAdil Mohammed said, “An ideal city corporation ward will have widened roads, drainage system, sewerage system, waste management system, health centres, library, community centre, educational institution, museum, theatre, playground, park, slaughterhouse, public toilet, and bus terminal to ensure service to the dwellers. Such facilities are not available in these new wards.”
He said a maximum part of the government lands in these new wards is occupied by the local musclemen. Occupiers have constructed high-rise buildings at various places and recorded land ownership in the name of persons and organisations.
The authorities concerned should conduct development works in the wards after freeing the occupied lands, and it needs to deal with the matter with an iron hand, added Adil Mohammed.
Selim Reza, additional secretary and DNCC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said that in accordance with the master plan, Bangladesh Army has started development works at No. 44 and 46 wards with a fund of Tk 300 crore that is part of the Tk 4,025 crore approved by the government for the first phase of development work. Work in the rest of the wards will start very soon after getting money from the government.
About paying holding tax to the city corporation from 2016, Selim Reza said according to the city corporation law, residents must pay holding tax after the publication of the gazette notification.
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