DRAFT LAND REFORM ACT : Speakers call proposed law a rehash job

Staff Correspondent

Academics, lawyers and politicians at a roundtable on Sunday said the land ministry’s proposed land reform act – 2014 was nothing but a rehash of the land reform ordinance – 1984.
They urged the government to elaborately define the issue of land reform and to ensure the rights of landless people and farmers over land in the new act, as the existing land reform ordinance could not establish farmers’ and landless people’s rights over the last 31 years.
The Association for Land Reform and Development organised the discussion at the conference room of National Press Club where speakers present said there was no point in formulating a law if it could not be implemented.
Seema Jaman, associate professor of law at Dhaka University, during her presentation on the proposed land reform act said there was provision in the land reform ordinance that sharecroppers would have rights to cultivate land for a period following a written agreement.
But in Bangladesh, she said, very few landowners preferred an agreement with sharecroppers and rather gave their land to sharecroppers on a verbal agreement so they can cancel the agreement anytime.
Syeda Rezwana Hasan, executive director of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association, said there were acts and policies on land use but people, and even the governments, did not comply with the those acts and policies.
She said indiscriminate use of the agricultural land for other purposes will put food safety in danger in future.
Lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha, convener of the parliamentary caucus on ethnic minorities, said that the rights of ethnic minorities on land must be ensured in the proposed land reform act.
ALRD chairperson Khusi Kabir presided over the meeting addressed by its executive director Shamsul Huda, law adviser of human rights organisation BLAST, SM Rezaul Karim, and general secretary of Adibashi Forum, Sanjeeb Drong.
Huda said that as the culture of contract farming was already a part of society, it should be included in the proposed act.
Khusi Kabir said that they would put forward the recommendations to the government and urge the government for their inclusion in the proposed act.

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