Vol. 5 Num 234 Wed. January 19, 2005  
Star City

Rajuk rules deprive Old Dhaka residents of new plots
Dhakaites allege they are deprived of civic amenities while Rajuk Chairman affirms they are disqualified from owning land for genuine reasons

The Dhakaiyas or Dhakaites, living in the old part of the city are deprived of Rajuk plots as most of them are not eligible to apply for the plots because they own inherited lands, although in most cases the size of the land is negligible.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) disqualifies application for plots if anyone owns a land within the Dhaka metropolis area. Since the Dhakaites are the first settlers of the city, they share small pieces of inherited lands and houses in the area.

The Rajuk rules do not specify the size of the land owned by a person applying for new plots. The Old Dhaka residents said it is an injustice to them as they cannot apply for plots for having shared ownership of land, no matter how small it is.

The people coming from outside Dhaka who own a large chunk of lands in other parts of the country are eligible to apply for Rajuk plots but the so-called 'land-owner' Dhakaites are disqualified automatically as per rules.

"If the people who have lands in their villages can apply for plots, why we can't?" said Shukur Salek, president of Dhaka Bashi, an organisation of the old city residents.

"In this part of the city, a one or two-katha plot is shared by as many as 10 to 15 people….There are many instances that all the members of a family own a small plot. So officially all of them are land-owners," Shukur said.

The Dhakaites alleged that they are always deprived of the civic amenities and facilities offered by Rajuk or any other authorities.

Rajuk Chairman Md Shahid Alam admitted that the Old Dhaka residents are deprived of the ownership of new plots but he said they are disqualified for genuine reasons. He said he would discuss the problem with the ministry.

"It is true that the Old Dhaka residents are living in small plots for six to seven generations. They should have the right to get Rajuk plots," he said.

Moreover, most houses in the Old Dhaka are now in dilapidated condition. "Our families have expanded but the land is fixed. Now it is really difficult for us to live in our old, small houses," said Moinul Hossain, a resident of Lalbagh.

"Most of us do not have the capacity to purchase land from other people. So Rajuk must give us the right to apply for government plots," Moinul said.

A group of old city residents met the former chairman of Rajuk last year and raised to demand for 'reserved plots' for the Dhakaites. The then chairman promised to look into the matter but no action was taken yet.

An overcrowded Shakaribazar where residents are denied of larger plots of land. PHOTO: STAR