Amid rising dengue cases, the ward councillors, naturally, are finding themselves under the spotlight. Whether the councillors of DSCC (Dhaka South City Corporation), numbering more than 70, are performing according to the responsibility bestowed on them galls many. That the overall style of their executing civil duties has so far been disappointing is evident. The situation has come to such a pass over the years that the residents under the DSCC jurisdiction now find themselves inured to the mismanagements in almost all urban sectors. Lots of tall promises have been made, and they remained unmet. Against this disappointing backdrop, DSCC mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh's idea of a 30-year master plan for Dhaka city's southern part deserves plaudits. To the expectation of the DSCC residents, ward-based development work is set to be the chief agenda of the plan.
Although the DSCC area is smaller than its northern counterpart DNCC (Dhaka North City Corporation), its population density is higher like its ward numbers. Thanks to this, the DSCC ward councillors have to carry out many multi-faceted and challenging tasks. In executing their responsibilities, they have to go through many adversities, especially those caused by insufficient funds and inadequate logistics. In order to streamline the functions of DSCC, viz. its ward-based units, the corporation has already appointed a consulting firm. A contemporary print-media outlet has recently quoted the DSCC mayor as saying, "The consulting firm has started its preliminary work, and we will attach priority to ward-based development." The mayor's words are resonant of similar work-plans undertaken in many cities in the developed world. The DSCC mayor is ready to keep in consideration the unique demands of a ward. Besides, the corporation will determine prioritisation based on the population density in a particular ward area.
A city corporation in today's Bangladesh receives much of its strength and impetus from the dynamism provided by its wards. In conformity with this reality, the performance of these smaller municipal units keeps receiving more and more attention. In short, a 'city government' or 'city corporation' – no matter by what nomenclature they are known – these vital organisations are inextricably linked to their affiliated smaller organs.
Embarking on a 30-year master plan by a city corporation can be triggered by either the assessment of the existing wards' performance or a reminder that their performances need monitoring. It might also encourage the ward councillors to take up large ventures in their areas, because upon hitting unforeseen snags they will find rescue outlets close to them. Since the master plan is set to start functioning from the grassroots-level city corporation units, they will find the general people beside them. Thus the residents of a particular ward, in all likelihood, might be found voluntarily standing beside the councillors in their predicaments in executing a project. Here, the universal adage returns: people are the source of every endeavour's strength. At the DSCC's 9th board meeting, the mayor urged the councillors to place demands and suggestions for their respective wards -- which will be accommodated in the master plan. Perhaps as a kind of assurance, the mayor told the councillors that the DSCC authorities will sit with them and the consulting firm soon to elaborate on the matter. At least one thing can be said of the DSCC's activities centring around the master plan. Though belated, this ambitious 30-year plan carries the potential for yielding positive results. However, it should be free of irregularities and foot-dragging.