Sylhet City Corporation (SCC), the smallest city corporation in Bangladesh, is going to be expanded 17 years after its inception. The municipality was upgraded to a city in 2002 and covers an area of 26.50 sq km.
Twelve years after it was formed, the city corporation sent a proposal to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives to include a further 160.62 sq km area. But the proposal got stuck for the last five years.
However, the initiative gained momentum through a meeting at the Sylhet Deputy Commissioner's office on November 17, 2019.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen MP from the Sylhet-1 constituency expressed approval of the proposal and gave some instructions on it at the meeting.
Dr Momen said, "If the SCC area is expanded we will be able to provide services to more people, which will eventually increase revenue. When the area is expanded, the corporation will be able to provide better service."
The deputy commissioner, the SCC mayor, public representatives and officials of the district administration were also present at the meeting.
Senior corporation officials think the meeting boosted the initiative for expanding the city.
Once the proposal is approved, the number of wards under the city corporation will increase from 27 to more than fifty.
The SCC's public relations department said Sylhet city has a population of around half a million, but several lakh people living in areas around the metropolitan area also get the facilities of the city corporation. However, the corporation does not get any revenue from them because they are not living under its jurisdiction. So, the city corporation is facing a deficit in revenue collection.
The district administration and the Sylhet City Corporation were directed to prepare two separate proposals to finalise the expansion process at the meeting.
A decision will be made after both the proposals are submitted, and the expansion process can start after that.
SCC Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said, "We sent a proposal for expansion of the city five years ago, but it got stuck for several years. I hope it will be implemented soon because the foreign minister has taken an initiative on it."
Increase of size will boost revenue, allocation and development projects, he added.
The Local Government Division's deputy director at the Sylhet DC office, Mir Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman, said, "The foreign minister instructed us to prepare a proposal on the expansion of the city corporation. The city corporation had earlier sent a proposal, and we will prepare a proposal after evaluating that one."
In the proposal sent to the ministry in 2014, the Sylhet City Corporation asked the ministry to add Khadimnagar Tea Garden, Doldoli Tea Garden and Salutikor in the north, Shurigaon, Mamudpur, Rustampur, Kalaichalk Dhumsree and Chattighor in the south, Chatol, Uttar Gopal, Koskalia, Bawnpur, Enayetpur, Haripur, Ragupur, Dorsha, Modinimahal, Laxmipasha, Hazrai, Talibpur and Laxmipur in the West, and Boteshwar, Bagha, Hatimnagar, Amdorpur, Uttarbhag, Bagorkhola, Hillalpur, Maizebhag, Daudpur and Tirashigaon in the east to the jurisdiction of the Sylhet City Corporation.
Several unions under Sylhet Sadar and South Surma upazilas will become extinct once the proposal is passed. These are Khadimpara, Tulatikor, Tukerbazar, Khadimnagar and Kandigaon unions under Sadar upazila, and Kuchai, Boroikandi and Mollargaon under South Surma upazila. A portion of Bagha union under Golapganj upazila may also be added to the city.
Sylhet district was established in March 17, 1772. Originally, a part of the Bengal Presidency and later Eastern Bengal and Assam, the town was a part of Colonial Assam between 1874 and 1947. Following a referendum and the partition of British India, it became a part of East Pakistan. Sylhet was under Chattogram division. Later, in 1983-84, greater Sylhet was divided into four districts – Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Habiganj.
Sylhet became a division in August 1995.