Landless poor to get khas land: Committees identifying eligible people


District and upazila level committees formed by the government are now working to identify the landless families and khas land (government-owned land) for distribution among the families.

Against the backdrop of rising number of landless in the country, the government recently initiated the move to distribute cultivable khas land, not being used by the government, among those people.

The move aims at reducing poverty as well as the number of landless, said land ministry officials.

According to government statistics, the total area of khas land in the country is about 50 lakh acres while more than half (58 percent) of the total population is now landless.

“We will complete the entire process by June 30,” Land Minister Md Rezaul Karim Hira told The Daily Star at his office last week. He said initially khas land would be distributed among 20 families in each upazila.

The amount of land to be given to each family has not been fixed yet.

The deputy commissioners (DCs) are heading 11-member district-level committees while the upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) are leading 15-member committees at upazilas. They have been asked to complete the process so that distribution of khas land can be started soon, said the minister.

Successive governments failed to take any effective initiatives to recover khas land from the clutches of illegal land grabbers. Asked about recovering the grabbed land, the minister said his ministry would take initiatives if anyone comes with specific allegations in this regard.

Since the number of landless people is going up gradually, Hira said their initiative to distribute khas land among the landless would continue as per the Agricultural Khas Land Management and Settlement Policy, 1997.

According to official statistics, the number of landless people in the country has tripled in the last five decades.

The committees responsible for preparing lists of the landless people and identifying khas lands for allotment have been asked to send reports to the ministry on completion of their task.

“The work is in progress…secretary to the land ministry is supervising the initiative,” the minister said. He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina might inaugurate the programme.

The government has also planned to set up shelters for the destitute at upazila level. “The land ministry in separate moves has already issued directives to local administration for immediate measures to this effect,” the minister added.

A separate project for constructing shelters at each upazila is also going on simultaneously, Hira told The Daily Star.

Source: The Daily Star, 05 April 2009

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