Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lawmakers linked to land grabbing

Alleges Qamrul

Involvement of both the Awami League and BNP lawmakers in grabbing khas land remains a major obstacle towards ensuring poor people’s right to land, State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam said yesterday.
“No one, who have been MPs for a long time, keep themselves off this process… regardless of whether they belong to the Awami League or BNP,” he said referring to the corruption in using the country’s khas lands.
The state minister was speaking at a roundtable dialogue styled, “Accessibility of poor and extreme poor people to khas land: Existing constraints and way forward.”  Care Bangladesh, a humanitarian organisation, hosted the event at a city hotel.
The real acreage of khas lands in the country is at least two to three times higher than the figure shown in government land records, mentioned Qamrul.
He blamed the anomaly on the failure of the land administration to collect proper and adequate information in time.
According to official records, the country has about 33 lakh acres of khas lands. The number of landless families is estimated at 70 lakh.
Besides the political leaders, said the state minister, there is a group of land grabbers who do not belong to any political party in real sense.
“With each and every change in the state power, they [land grabbers] change the sides to be able to come up with new schemes for grabbing more khas lands,” he noted, adding that most of the housing companies are run by these “land mafia.”
With support from corrupt land officials, particularly the assistant commissioners (land), land grabbers can easily manage false deeds and documents related to the allotment of khas lands, he observed.
The land ministry needs to address the problem with a strong hand and must initiate a tough monitoring of land documents authorised by the assistant commissioners, added Qamrul.
Addressing the dialogue as the chief guest, Land Minister Rezaul Karim Hira said he has been working hard to improve the capacity and transparency of the land administration.
Care Bangladesh Country Director Jamie Terzi and Information Commissioner Sadeka Halim also spoke at the roundtable, moderated by Monzurul Ahsan Bulbul, chief executive officer of Boishakhi Television.