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Sunday, May 02, 2010

CHT Land Dispute Disposal Commission creats own dispute

Courtesy: New Age, Dhaka, May 1, 2010,

Delay in CHT land survey
worries commission

Mustafizur Rahman

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Settlement Commission has decided to ask the government to conduct a land survey in the hill districts of Khagrachari, Bandarban and Rangamati.
The decision came amid an apparent deadlock in the process with the government dragging its feet over the decision to go for the survey to resolve land disputes.
‘The commission will ask the government in a couple of days for undertaking the land survey in the CHT districts as early as possible to help resolve the land disputes,’ chairman of the CHT land commission Khademul Islam Chowdhury told New Age on Thursday.
The land ministry on March 11, 2010 deferred an inter-ministerial meeting on CHT land survey after the representatives from the CHT regional council and district councils refused to attend the meeting until the disputes were settled. The ministry decided to hold the meeting in Chittagong Hill Tracts
in mid-April to work out the modalities of the survey, but it did not take place.
When asked whether the government had backtracked on its decision to launch the much-awaited CHT land survey, land minister Rezaul Karim Hira said that the land commission was conducting field work to resolve the land disputes.
‘At the moment, we are not going to hold the inter-ministerial meeting…We will decide what to do after we hold a meeting with the land commission,’ the minister told New Age at his office on Thursday.
Earlier on March 11, Rezaul Karim said that they would meet in mid-April in any of the three hill districts to settle the matter through discussions with the leaders of ethnic minorities, local administrations and elected representatives.
The government deferred the inter-ministerial meeting in the face of protest from the chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, Joytirindra Bodhipriya Larma, better known as Santu Larma, who in writing asked the government for settling the land disputes before going for any survey.
Meanwhile, the commission received around 400 applications for resolving land disputes, said an official source.
The chairman of the commission said it had held a series of meetings last year and also told the land ministry to initiate steps for land survey, which originally began in 1986 and was suspended in 1988 after abduction of two surveyors.
The inter-ministry meeting was first scheduled for October 10, 2009, he added.
‘Land disputes cannot be settled without classification and specification of lands…The land administration here cannot function effectively as the areas are yet to be surveyed for proper demarcation,’ Khademul, a retired judge who was appointed the commission chief in
July 2009, said adding that the authorities had conducted several land surveys in all areas of the country, but the hill districts, home to various ethnic groups.
The ethnic minority leaders, as per the 1997 CHT accord, are supposed to help the commission, constituted in 2001, in resolving the disputes, he added.
‘We have already asked through public announcement the affected land owners in the hill districts to appeal to the commission,’ the commission chairman said.

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