Primary and Mass Education Adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury and Special Assistant to the Chief Adviser Raja Devasish Roy at a workshop yesterday called for ensuring access to land, water and forest resources for the poor, women and indigenous people.
Raja Devasish Roy stressed the need for amending the 1927 Forest Act and called for bringing reforms in the court system so that poor and indigenous people get their access to justice.
The advisers were speaking at the South Asian workshop styled 'Access to land water and forest resources for the poor, women and indigenous peoples' organised by Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), a right-based NGO, at YWCA auditorium at Mohammadpur in the city.
Denmark Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Jan Moller Hansen, ALRD Executive Committee Chairperson Khusi Kabir and ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda also spoke at the inaugural session of the two-day workshop.
Delegates from India, Pakistan, Nepal and host Bangladesh are taking part in the workshop.
Rasheda K Chowdhury said more right-based approach is needed in the policy to ensure using land and forest resources by the indigenous people of the country who were left from the mainstream of development.
"We have many legal frameworks of rights in papers, but how far these frameworks allow people to establish their rights -- that's the question," she added.
Rasheda K Chowdhury further said "But all things considered, it's the political will of any particular country whether we really like to establish the rights of the people and their access to land, water and forest resources."
"Khas land should be provided among indigenous people," Raja Devasish Roy said, adding that a government circular has been issued already in this regard.
Stressing the need for bringing reforms in the court system, he said, Poor and disadvantaged people do not have resources to hire a lawyer and get justice in the ordinary court system.
Jan Moller Hansen said the government of Bangladesh has expressed its commitment to indigenous people's issues in the PRSP.
He further said the very modest speed of implementation of the agreed policy recommendations, including implementation of the CHT peace accord, is however a matter of concern.