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UNOs, Upazila Chairmen are at loggerheads

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BANGLADESH Upazila Parishad Association has alleged that Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) are playing the role of rulers at the upazila level. Speaking at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday, leaders of the platform complained that the bureaucratic attitude of the UNOs is creating obstacles to the activities of the public representatives.
Upazila Parishad President Harun-ur-Rashid Hawlader said although there are elected representatives in an Upazila Parishad, an official (UNO) of the republic is acting as the ruler of the Upazila ignoring everything. The association alleged that government officials at the Upazila level were conspiring to establish feudal rule by secluding the public representatives. There is a lack of coordination at the field level due to the unlawful conducts and activities of the officials, it said.
Upazilas have been declared an administrative part in the related law and its administrative structure is the elected Upazila Parishad. At least 17 departments under 12 ministries, along with its officers, employees and functions, have been handed over to the Upazila Parishad in accordance with the Upazila Parishad Act.
But various Ministries and departments are issuing circulars without taking the law into consideration. Through these circulars, the UNO concerned has been made the chairman of almost 100 percent committees formed for the disposal of the functions of all departments in the upazila.
The bureaucratic UNOs don't care about the elected representatives as they don't think that they would be held to account — a fact evinced by the system which is ignoring the elected representatives. This seems fairly easy to do because the elections were previously held on a non-partisan basis but since 2016 have been dominated by the ruling party men. But voter enthusiasm has waned which perhaps has led the bureaucratic UNOs to ignore these elected representatives.
But the ministries also have ignored these representatives — making it doubly easy for the UNOs to ignore those elected. So unless the Ministries change their attitude power will continue to be wielded by the UNOs.

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