Tougher law to recover khash land on the cards

The government is going to enact new laws to recover khash land across the country and to bring the illegal occupants to book as well with provision for stringent punishment, including jail and fine, said official sources in the Ministry of Land. 

The sources also said the ministry has already started preparing a draft law with the help of legal experts. The draft is expected to be completed within a month. Later, it would be forwarded to the cabinet for its approval. 

Besides, the Ministry of Land is working to set up a 'Khas Land Information Bank' to keep updated with specific information about the country’s khas lands and to monitor it.

The official sources in the Ministry said the total amount of khas land for agriculture and non-agriculture is 41, 94, 399 acres. Of the total land, 6,591 acres are fit for settlement tenure while the rest  35,87,808 acres are not fit for settlement. 

According to sources, new laws are being prepared keeping the provisions of jail, fine and other punishment as the existing laws are not able to ensure protection of  the khas lands and bring the  grabbers  under tougher punishment.

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Javed said the initiative of enacting new laws has been taken for ensuring punishment to illegal occupants of khas lands. 

“With the new laws, the mobile courts will be able to bring the illegal occupants under strict punishment, including jail and fine”, said the Minister adding that the process of preparing a draft has already been started.

The Land Minister further said that none of the illegal occupants of the khas lands would be spared whoever he may be. The government will do everything necessary to do in this regard.

Official sources said, all of about 42 lakh acres of khas lands are owned by the Ministry of Land and the Deputy Commissioner, UNO, AC (Land) and Assistant Land Officer are the authorities responsible to look after the khas lands. But, a huge quantity of khas land has already been grabbed illegally by the unscrupulous powerful and influential people. Besides, a section of people, in collaboration with some of the corrupt officials have also grabbed khas land by forging documents. 

Besides, sources said, most of the officials of the authorities concerned mysteriously are not willing to monitor the khas lands as well as to recover the illegally occupied khas lands. Not only that, in most cases, the khas lands are being occupied illegally with the help of a section of the unscrupulous officials.

The sources in the Ministry of Land said the government in many drives conducted from December to June, 2020 recovered about 6,000 acres of khas lands from the occupation of different grabbers. Of the lands, 133 acres were recovered in Dhaka, 651 acres in Chattogram, 518 in Rajshahi, 4,189 in Khulna and 185 acres in Sylhet divisions.

Pradeep Kumar Das, an additional secretary of the Land Ministry, said although the mobile courts are active for the purpose of freeing and recovering of the khas land, but the mobile courts have not enough power to ensure punishment to occupants with the existing laws. Therefore, new laws are being enacted to ensure punishment to the occupants.

He also said, immediately after the enactment of the new laws, drives by the mobile courts for recovering the grabbed khas land will be intensified across the country.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Ministry of Land said the government is setting up a 'Khas Land Information Bank' to monitor all khas lands across the country. With this 'Khas Land Information Bank', it will be possible to identify where are the khas land in each district, upazila, mouza, dag and khatian instantly. 

At the same time, the sources said, it is being considered to put up signboards on every khas land mentioning the government ownership so that nobody could  dare occupy the public properties illegally.