Local Government Institutions and Peace- Chittagong Hill Tracts Perspective

Local government is a significant institution in any democracy. It can also provide opportunities to local people for meaningful participation in public affairs and for management of local resources for the benefit of the people. The recent trends of decentralization add more importance to the existing local government system. The recent political realization is that the strengthening of local government is not only necessary for execution of governmental policy but also for involving people of all spheres of society in the formulation of the policies as well as in their execution. The study attempts to analyze the existing pattern of local government system in Chittagong Hill Tracts and identify its role to establish peace in the region.

Unlike other parts of the country’s local government system the terms and references of the three hill district councils are different. After signing historic peace accord between the PCJSS and the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh, there had been taken place huge change and authority in the Local Government system of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Three separate acts created the three hill district local government parishads, namely Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban in 1989. The acts provide each hill district local government parishad with 21 functions. These are maintenance of law and order in the hill district; evaluation of the implementation of their developments projects and making arrangements for auditing their accounts, and providing them with assistance, cooperation and encouragement; establishment and maintenance of primary schools, public libraries, hostels for students, book stalls, and granting stipends, providing grants to educational institutions and training of school teachers; promotion of adult education, etc.

Promotion of social welfare and local cultural activities including religious and ethical development; construction of roads , culverts and bridges not maintained by the central government; management and control of the local ferries not maintained by the government or any other local body; arrangement and maintenance of gardens, play grounds and open spaces for public use; establishment and management of inns; dak-bungalows and rest houses; implementation of development plans initiated by the government; development of communities; development of water supply and sanitation; preparation of maps for the development of local areas and preservation of religious; moral and economical standards. It is evident that hill district local government parishads have been assigned many more functions than the Zilla Parishads. The study is to examine the functions of local government institutions in chittagong hill tracts which ultimately leads to peace and sustainable development in the area. It will investigate legal provisions, composition; activities of the local government system and its interactions with people, other level of government agencies and NGOs.

The thesis has been divided into seven chapters. Chapter-one gives a brief overview of Local Government and Peace in Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Contextual Framework, Nature and Scope of the Study. Chapter-two presents Methodology of the Study, Objective of the Study, Chapter Scheme, and Limitation of the Study. Chapter-three bring out Location and Physical Features of the Selected Area, Demographic Profile, and Characteristics of CHT etc. Chapter-four discovered Historical Background of the Local Government Institutions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Administrative Set up of LGI in different period, relevant Regime Motivation. Chapter-five concentrates on the Post Peace Accord Development and new set up of Local Government Institutions in CHT, present unique Administrative Set up of CHT, Overlapping Responsibilities of various LGI, the role of the Local Government Institutions in Establishing Peace and Development in CHT after signing Peace Accord. Chapter-six presents the problems and findings of the study area with the LGI activities. Chapter-seven is the Concluding one, presents a brief Summary with Recommendation.

The researcher believes that after signing peace accord in 1997, the different set up and authority of local government institutions in the CHT help directly to achieve more sustainable peace than any earlier period in the history. The researcher also hopes that identification of local government institutions problems and the suggestions made therein will help bring about a significant improvement in local government and peace in the region. The paper will help the government, other researchers, political persons, elected representatives of the LGI in the CHT and ultimately to the people as a whole.