Chittagong Hill Tracts: Improved Version of Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act Possible
Political leaders of ten different parties state the recent amendment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Act 2013 has room for improvement.
Below is an article published by the Dhaka Tribune:
Political leaders of ten different parties yesterday [29 June 2013] said the recent amendment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Act 2013 was not written the way it had been proposed by the CHT Accord Implementation Committee or had been decided upon in several inter-ministerial meetings.
The draft of the act was approved by the cabinet on May 27 and sent to parliament as a bill on June 16.
Speaking at a press briefing, political leaders opined that a better, more fruitful amendment of the act was still possible, since the bill was waiting for the consideration of the land ministry. Moreover, both parliamentary committee and Prime minister were aware that the draft failed to address several issues vital to resolving the land disputes in the CHT region.
The press briefing was held at Hotel Sundarban in the city. Leaders of Workers Party of Bangladesh, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Bangladesh Communist Party, Ganatantri Party, Samyabadi Dal, Ganaazadi League, Oikkyo Bodhdho NAP, Bangladesh Sanajtantrik Dal (BSD) among others were present at the press briefing.
Reading out a statement in the press briefing, Pankaj Bhattachariya of Oikkyo Bodhdho NAP said the CHT Accord Implementation Committee, CHT ministry, land ministry, law ministry and PCJSS were in consensus in several meetings for amending 13 points of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001.
Pankaj pointed out that the party of the accord PCJSS had earlier demanded an amendment of the 2001 act on 23 points.
Speakers said the flawed amendment of the act would create further tensions in the CHT region.
Ruling 14-party alliance lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon said: “The bill states that grabbed land would not be under the jurisdiction of the Land Commission. That means only 35% of land-related disputes in the region could be solved through the commission, and 65% would remain as it is now.”
“Neither the land disputes of the CHT region would be resolved, nor the locals there would be benefitted by the flawed amendment of the act,” said Menon, who is also chairman of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong said: “In section 6(1)(a), the bill omitted the ‘customary procedure’ words used while dealing with land disputes in a tribal inhabited area like CHT. Considering such procedures is a must.