April 23, 2024, 11:39 am

Land Minister hopes three bills would be enacted as laws by October

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Update : Sunday, September 3, 2023

Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury has expressed hope that a total of three land law drafts, including the ‘Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, 2023,’ will be introduced into the Parliament as bills on Monday, September 4, 2023. The other two draft laws are the ‘Land Reform Act, 2023,’ and the ‘Balumohal (sand quarry) and Soil Management (Amendment) Act, 2023.’

Note that the 24th session of the 11th National Parliament is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Sunday, September 3.

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury expressed this hope in his speech as the chief guest at the seminar on ‘Decentralization of Dhaka and Sustainable Urbanization in Bangladesh,’ organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at the DCCI Auditorium in the capital today, Saturday.

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury also expressed hope that after due scrutiny, it will be possible to enact the three bills, including the Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, as law in the Parliament by next October.

In his speech, the land minister also said that once the recently started Bangladesh Digital Survey is completed, it will be possible to eliminate many problems in the previous surveys. The minister said that due to digital land management, there is no more opportunity to own extra land outside the ceiling. He said at this time, we want people to be able to receive land services at home so that no one has to go to the land office except for urgent needs. The minister felt that the less ‘human-to-human connection,’ the better the service uptake.

In the event, the panelists discussed the strategies and areas for dealing with climate change, environmental protection, food security, agricultural land protection, well-planned urbanization across the country, and reducing pressure on the capital Dhaka.

The Minister of Land agreed to have representatives from the private sector in the public service organizations that came up in the discussion and said that it could facilitate decision-making and work. The issue of representation may be considered in pursuing the legal aspect. The minister also said that the government has given utmost importance to the protection of three crops’ agricultural land. At this time, the Land Minister called on the media and stakeholding non-governmental organizations and organizations to play the role of a responsible “watchdog.”

Note that the Ministry of Land is working on finalizing the draft of the ‘Land Ownership and Uses Act, 2023,’ aimed at protecting agricultural land, capping the maximum limit of non-agricultural land, ensuring food security, and reducing the harmful effects of climate change.

Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Kazi Wasi Uddin, and Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Dr. Farhina Ahmed, were present as special guests. Joint editor of Bangladesh Environment Movement (BAPA) and architect Iqbal Habib presented the keynote at the seminar. Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Barrister Samir Sattar presided over the event.

Former Chief Architect of the Department of Architecture of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Kazi Golam Nasir, Vice President of REHAB Engineer Muhammad Sohel Rana, Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Institute of Planners President Planner Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon, and Managing Director of Notundhara Assets Limited Md. Shadi-uz-Zaman.

Senior officials from various non-governmental development organizations and business organizations, businessmen, professionals, representatives of civil society, and media personalities were also present at the occasion.

The three draft land laws to be tabled in Parliament in the form of bills are:

The salient aspects of the ‘Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, 2023,’ is to identify many land-related crimes and bring them under the category of criminal offenses. The law provides for punishment for those crimes. This will enable citizens to ensure their right to uninterrupted use and possession of the land they own. The law specifies areas of land fraud and fraud, as well as prevention, suppression, and, if necessary, redress. Violation of this law is punishable with a fine and imprisonment or both.

The salient aspects of the Land Reform Act, 2023, include the provision of a maximum limit of 60 bighas for individual agricultural land ownership. However, the law has been relaxed in some cases. The law will be relaxed in the case of the establishment of tea, coffee, and rubber plantations, manufacturing activities in industrial establishments or factories, and export-oriented industries through cooperative societies. The Act also provides for the rights of habitat, lease agreements, and a fair share of crop production.

The salient aspects of the Sand Quarry and Soil Management (Amendment) Act, 2023, include the provision to prohibit the extraction of sand or soil from any crop land. Apart from this, sand mining has also been banned from places where the navigability of the river can be damaged. Illegal sand mining machines can be seized. Under this law, if there is any damage to the road due to sand transportation, the leasing authority will have to repair the road again.

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