District Development Coordinator

District Development Coordinator an officer authorised by the government to coordinate the activities of different departments at the district level in order to review progress and implementation of district development projects and programmes. The concept of district development coordinator is associated with the decentralisation policy of the government, and as such the growth in the number of specialised departments having offices in the districts. As many of the departments went out of the capital into the field, the problems of coordination arose. It was against this background that the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, popularly known as the Rowlands Committee, was constituted by the British government. The committee pointed out the need for investing the necessary measure of authority with the district magistrate and collector to enable him to coordinate the activities of the different departments in the field. At the same time in its recommendations, the Rowlands Committee clearly excluded the authority of the district magistrate and collector from the internal administration and technical methods of the other departments.

During the 1950s the First Five Year Plan (1955-60) of Pakistan also called for strengthening the position of the district magistrate and collector as the development coordinator of the district. It was not until the 1960s that the role of the district development coordinator was institutionalised. A district development coordination committee was constituted with the district magistrate and collector as its head, and the heads of specialist services were made members of the committee.

Between 1979 and 1982, the government decided to induct politically appointed coordinators in the districts. Members of Jatiya Sangsad belonging to the bangladesh nationalist party, then in power, were appointed as district development coordinators. They were accorded the rank and status of deputy ministers. In addition, ministers were made chairmen of district development coordination committees. Immediately after promulgation of Martial Law in March 1982, the government issued a directive outlining the administrative arrangements of coordination at the division, district and thana levels. Under this directive, development coordination committees at division, district, subdivision and thana levels were constituted. The generalist field officers at each of these levels like the commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, sub-divisional officer and Circle Officer (dev) were made chairman of the committees at their respective levels. Senior-most officers of all important departments, development agencies, and other organisations were made members. The functions of the committees included: (a) overall coordination and monitoring of all development programmes and projects under implementation in their respective jurisdiction; (b) resolution of all inter-department/inter-agency coordination problems which might impede the pace of execution of projects and programmes; (c) inspection of projects and suggestion of measures for removal of bottlenecks so as to accelerate their execution; (d) review of progress of implementation, both financial and physical, of all development projects and programmes and appraisal of the socio-economic effects of such projects and programmes.

Attendance in the meetings of the committees was made compulsory. The chairmen of these committees were vested with the authority to inspect projects in their respective jurisdictions to ensure that the progress in implementation was satisfactory. They were further authorised to prepare special reports on the projects and send them to the government. The secretary of the relevant ministry was required to look into the problems and issues raised in these reports, and to take prompt action. The relevant functionaries were further required to implement the decisions of the committee at their respective levels.

With the introduction of the upazila system, the coordinative function at the upazila level passed on to the elected chairman of the upazila. However, the district development coordination committee continued to function with the district magistrate and collector as the chairman of the committee, and heads of other district level departments as members. This committee serves as the principal forum for resolving inter-agency disputes. The district magistrate and collector continued also to head as many as thirty district level committees covering such areas as agricultural credit, disaster management, food for work, etc. [AMM Shawkat Ali]