Staff Reporter, Dhaka : The ‘Hats and Bazars (Establishment and Management) Act, 2023’, prohibits the grabbing of government-owned Khas land in the Hats and Bazars or any unauthorized construction (or attempting construction) on such land. Violators of this law face penalties of up to one year of simple imprisonment, a fine of up to Taka 5 lakhs, or both.
Offenses under this Act will be tried in judicial courts. Additionally, where appropriate, such offenses may also be tried in mobile courts.
The Hats and Bazars (Establishment and Management), 2023 Bill was proposed to the Jatiya Sangsad (House of the Nation) on February 9th by Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury. The bill was drafted by the Ministry of Land and became law without any significant changes. It was gazetted on February 13th, and the Ministry of Land is expected to soon frame Rules under the Act.
As of the fiscal year 2021-22, there are a total of 10,273 Hats and Bazars across the country. Of these, the government generates revenue of approximately Tk 744 crore from 7,972 leased Hats and Bazaars.
The Ministry of Land is working to establish sustainable land management practices by introducing digital services, revising laws and regulations, and drafting new laws where necessary. Some of the notable laws being developed include the Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, Land Ownership and Use Act, Land Reforms Act, Land Development Tax Act, Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Act, and Land Rights Receiving Act.
The Hats and Bazars Act also contains a provision for the construction of modern, multi-storied market building using government, private, or foreign funding in the public interest, with the prerequisite of obtaining government permission. The management and distribution of income from the market complex will be carried out in accordance with prescribed procedures.
Under the new law, permanent settlement or leasing of any land in Hat and Bazar is prohibited, with only annual leasing allowed. Additionally, a reserved empty space in the Hat and Bazar must be used as a “Toha Bazar” for temporary seating for farmers and petty traders, which falls outside regular leasing. Along with permanent Hat and Bazar, the Act also allows for the establishment of temporary Hat and Bazar.
The authorities responsible for establishing the Hats and Bazars can form management committees at the district, upazila, municipality, city corporation, and union parishad levels to oversee all activities, including maintenance and development, conducting the daily activities of the Haats and Bazaars, as well as collecting tolls, taxes, rates, or fees, as applicable.
The ownership of Hats and Bazars will be under the Ministry of Land as per the law, and any establishment of a Hats and Bazars on land in violation of the provisions may result in the government confiscating the land and all its establishments.
Note, as per the law, the term ‘Hat and Bazar’, Hat or Bazaar refers to any location where the general public purchases and sells agricultural produce, fruits, animals, poultry, eggs, fish, meat, milk, dairy products, food and beverages, industrial products, and daily necessities on a daily basis or a specific day of the week. This also encompasses shops established in such locations for the sale and purchase of these products.
With the enactment of the ‘Hats and Bazars (Establishment and Management) Act, 2023’, the ‘Hats and Bazars (Establishment and Acquisition) Ordinance, 1959’ was repealed.