It emphasised that according to the country's law and based on moral grounds, landless people deserves the state-owned land.
Economist and Dhaka University Professor Abul Barkat discussed the report titled “Bangladesh Land Status Report 2015” during its launching programme held at the National Press Club yesterday. The report is a compilation of 17 research papers conducted by 12 experts and researchers.
Representatives of local NGOs and land rights activists including participant from northern, southern, hilly and haor areas, shoal and coastal areas joined the programme and expressed their experiences in an open discussion. Khushi Kabir, chairperson of ALRD, moderated the programme organised by her organisation.
Out of the total population in Bangladesh, 5% (75 million) people used to live in shoal lands and of them 80% are marginally poor and 93% are partly or fully landless people, the study read.
An article in the report titled “Land of 'Unpeopled' indigenous peoples” stated that indigenous people across Bangladesh, especially in hill tracks areas, were being deprived of land rights due to the country’s land laws.
According to the participants at the programme, local land registration offices are the most corrupted and officials and sub registrars in land office, brick farm owners, local politicians and influential people commit irregularities in registering and managing land especially state-owned and shoal lands.
They said there were no exact local statistics of state-owned lands and most information land offices had contradicted each others.
Based on another article titled “Women and Land Right” and “Women’s Ownership of Land Access to Land and Land-related Interest,” the report stated that despite the equal number in population, rural women only own 4% of land.
It added that the inheritance and owning of land go through “personal law” which is discriminatory and combined with other land laws women become marginalised and powerless.
In the last decade (2003-2013), 661 acres of land became non-agricultural and unsuitable for farming everyday, posing a threat to the country's food safety. This also allowed the victimisation of small farmers, making way for the commercialisation of land, another article titled “Commercialisation of Agricultural Land and Contract Farming” found.
Land administration and management has been running under the colonial rule which was favourable to land rent seekers and land grabbers, read the article “Capacity Assessment of Land Administration and Management.”
The article, “Land Laws from Right-based Approach-status and Recommendation Changes,” added that the land laws in Bangladesh were unfriendly to poor and marginalised people, outdated and in some cases unconstitutional and even self-contradictory. It said yearly Tk24,860 crore is used to run land related cases in Bangladesh, which is a massive cost to the public.
In the study “Land Reform Monitoring,” researchers tried to find a way out of those difficulties.
Among others, Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Shamsul Huda, executive director and member secretary of ALRD, Dr Bimal Kumar Saha, research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) were present.