EC against redrawing of ward boundaries

February 23, 2010

Union Parishad Polls
EC against redrawing of ward boundaries
Decides to ask govt for amendment to act, avoid delay in holding polls in May-July
The Election Commission has decided to ask the government to amend the union parishad act to avert possible ‘social disorder’ due to redemarcation of the parishad wards maintaining no more than10 percent population disparity among them, before their upcoming elections.
Moreover, if the redemarcation begins now, it will delay the commission’s current plan for holding the long overdue polls to the union parishads between May and July this year, the EC apprehended in a letter to be sent to the LGRD ministry today or tomorrow, according to commission officials.
The commission rather wants to maintain the existing delimitation of the wards for the upcoming union parishad elections.
The Local Government (Union Parishad) Act 2009 stipulates that the wards of union parishads should be redemarcated maintaining no more than 10 percent population disparity among the wards of a union parishad. Each union parishad has nine wards.
Reviewing the current boundaries of the wards, the EC in the letter says numerous villages or mauzas will be divided if the wards are redemarcated based on the new guideline, which might cause unnecessary social disorder, and litigations against the move.
“The provision should be amended to avert any such situation,” says the EC in the letter.
The commission officials said if the existing provision remains in the law then the wards of union parishads must be redemarcated all over the country, as a large number of those have huge population disparities.
“If the redemarcation begins now, it will not be possible to hold the elections this year,” a senior EC official said.
The EC in the letter says it has almost completed all preparations for holding the polls to around 4,500 union parishads between May and July this year.
The last union parishad elections were held between January 25 and March 16 in 2003. The next elections were supposed to be held in early 2008, but that could not happen due to imposition of a state of emergency in the country, and later due to the absence of a union parishad act.
The previous union parishad law did not have any provision for redemarcation of wards maintaining specific limit of population disparity among them.
The immediate past caretaker government repealed the old law under the state of emergency in 2008, and promulgated an ordinance introducing some new provisions for functioning of the union parishads. But the ordinance ceased to have effect on February 25 last year, and the incumbent government enacted a new law on October 15 the same year.
The EC and the caretaker government however had planned to complete holding all due local government elections before the last parliamentary poll held in December 2008. In July 2007, the chief election commissioner had even announced a tentative timeframe for the local government polls.
But the initiative could not move forward due to strong opposition from political parties, as they did not want the local government elections prior to the parliamentary poll.
Then the EC again planned to begin holding a series of elections to the union parishads, municipalities, and to Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations last year. But that effort also failed at the time due to the absence of relevant laws, which were made by the incumbent government between September and October last year.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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