The land minister said reform does not happen overnight but there is a need to develop a system to reduce corruption and ensure that people do not fall prey to land grabbing
The Ministry of Land plans to reform existing land laws that date back to colonial British and Pakistan times, to cub land grabbing. It aims to strengthen land governance nationwide, making it more transparent and accountable to protect the rights of women, farmers, and the poor and marginalized.
Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury made the statement speaking as chief guest at the launching of the “Bangladesh Land Status Report-2017,” at the auditorium of the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (Cirdap) in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Bangladesh Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) organized the event.
The land minister said reform does not happen overnight but there is a need to develop a system to reduce corruption and ensure that people do not fall prey to land grabbing.
A tribunal has been set up and letters have been issued to district commissioners (DC) across the country to return grabbed lands to rightful landowners. Land grabbing will be seen as a criminal offence, said Saifuzzaman.
The land minister also thought of giving priority to farmers when subsidizing land so that they get a true and proper value for their property.
Digitization will not help unless there is a reform in land laws, said the land minister.
He also said the Land Ministry is working as a team to tackle current problems in this regard. We have proposed to reform some laws. The Land Ministry has almost completed their Land Zoning project so that landless families can easily acquire land.
The cluster housing project is ongoing to make it possible to provide housing to 25,000 landless families, he said.
Possession of government land is a criminal offence. A list of those occupying government-owned land will be published accordingly, the minister added.
Although the constitution provides equal rights for all, justice is reserved for those who are engaged with power, remarked economist Abul Barkat, adding that the lack of good governance time and again affects farmers, women, the indigenous, and the marginalized.
He argued that the government should reform the current land laws and land grabbing needs to be addressed urgently, and that the government should focus on those actions that ensure a sustainable development of the country.