3.b) The new rural administration scheme

Traditionally, the role pf the Government was centred an the maintenance pf law and order and the collection of revenue. Economic and welfare activities played a minor role. The structure of the administration reflected this conception of the role of Government. The lowest level with the full fledged administration was a district, a unit far away from the villages and the people, with about 3.5 million inhabitants and about 6,000 villages. Below, at the Thana level, only police and revenue departments were existing. As this does net meet the requirements of a rapid economic development, a new model for rural administration has been set up in Comilla as an experiment.

First. the Thana, a unit with about 200,000 inhabitants. has been considered close enough to the rural population and large enough for the organization of developmental activities. A new full fledged tier of administration has been developed at the Thana level with

  • The Thana Cpuncil as a local government council consisting of IB to 20 elected and appointed members and government officers. This council is the planning, coordinating and supervisory authority for the developmental activities of the Thana.
  • The Circle Officer (Dev.) as chief and coordinator of all government officers with tasks related to development.
  • The Thana development team consisting of the government officers in charge of agriculture, animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, forestry, fisheries, plant protection, cooperatives, education, etc. The officers of all these departments have been concentrated at the Thana headquarters to allow a close cooperation.

This new administrative organization proved very successfu7. The closeness to the village caused realistic planning and awareness of the real needs. The integration of the Thana Council and of the Union Council part of the Thana council members are chairmen of Union Councils provided for an uninterrupted line of communication and information. The new administrative tier at Thana level became especial1y effective when the rural works programme brought funds into its hands. This programme provided for the construction of roads, drains, sma11 irrigation schemes and public buildings and was planned and executed at the Union Council's level. The Thana Council acted as sanctioning agency, provided the funds and controlled the execution. Projects involving larger expenses or areas with several Union Councils were planned by the Thana Council, This rural works programme not only improved the infrastructure, gave employment and income, but also showed to people that something could be dome by the local government to improve the living conditions of the population,