With the third city corporation election up-ahead, citizens demand not only verbal promises but justified, sustainable and balanced development of the city on the basis of area, population, transparency and accountability.
Rights activists and general people allege that millions are spend every year in the name of development but in reality all that developed were the financial conditions of BCC mayors and councillors.
It would be hard to find any completed development work which maintained transparency, minimum standards, and regularities in distribution of work and also without the direct participation of mayors and councillors in corruption, Enayet Hossain Chowdhury, former secretary of Barisal Nagorik Parishad, said on the issue.
Prof Moazzem Hussain, president of Conscious Citizen Committee of TIB, said they have always arranged different programmes to remind the mayoral candidates of their promises of accountability and transparency made in front of the voters during electoral campaigns.
The Barisal Municipality was created in 1869 with two wards and a population of around 10,000. Later, it was extended to 10 wards with about 100,000 population during the pre-liberation period within a 20sqkm area. The town was expanded to 25sqkm after the country’s independence.
Since the inception of the city corporation, both budget increased manifold along with widespread allegations of corruption as the mayors were from the party in power and they ignored transparency and accountability, Habibur Rahman, a civic and human rights activist, said.
Rahima Sultana Kajal, president of Barisal NGO Development Network, said Barisal citizens are suffering from the crisis of water, electricity, roads and transportation. Clogged waters in different areas, lack of sanitation and drainage, irregularities in the development of the extended city corporation areas, lack of healthy recreation and sports also add to the daily sufferings of the people to which they ask for a solution from the elected mayor.
The outgoing BCC mayor and 14-party alliance backed mayoral candidate Shawkat Hossain Hiron said out of the Tk3.24bn of the BCC budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, only Tk816.4m (25.4%) is expected to come from state revenue sources, which would be spent as cost for establishments. The rest Tk2.4bn (74.6%) is expected from the government and non-government allocations for implementations of development projects.
Hiron denied all allegations of irregularities and corruption during his time and said there are many bodies to supervise and monitor the activities of local government institutions.
Regarding the past development projects during his tenure, he said the Barisal Port was modernised at the cost of Tk170m, while foundation of the Tk200m water treatment plant was laid and the Bangabandhu Auditorium at Barisal Central Shaheed Minar premises with the accommodation capacity of 500 was established at the cost of Tk170m. Barisal Marine Academy and the Muktijoddha Park at BIWTA marine workshop premises were inaugurated by the prime minister during her last visit on March 20.
“If I would be re-elected as mayor then the ongoing and proposed projects would be completed for making Barisal a green, healthy and clean city according to the wishes of the citizens,” Hiron added.