Illegal occupiers grab Rly lands; govt loses revenue

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Author / Source: ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN
DHAKA, July 29: Large swathes of land, belonging to the Bangladesh
Railways, amounting to thousands of crores of Taka, have been grabbed by
illegal occupiers. Though most of the lands of the railways have been
given to different social, educational and religious organisations, with
licenses for a single year, the authorities concerned have failed to
prevent encroachment.

As a result, the railway ministry has not yet taken a decision on
leasing its land to some of the organisations that have applied for the
lands.

The Rashid Foundation has applied for railway land, in an
attempt to expand educational activities, and to meet the requirements
for more space for their South Point School and College, at Khilgaon.
The foundation has sent a petition to the railway minister and intends
to fulfil the terms and conditions of the licence and pay annual fees
for the fallow lands belonging to the railway ministry.
In the
petition, the foundation pointed out that it would be able to provide
more admission facilities to larger numbers of students, if they get the
railway land.
“If we get the land, it would allay the apprehensions
of the students, who can’t get admission to better schools. At present,
around 7,000 students are studying on the Banani, Baridhara and Malibagh
campuses. The government should take positive steps, taking into
consideration the expectations of the students and guardians. It would
help pave the way for modern and quality education, and also ensure the
proper use of land,” the petition noted.
The school authorities said
that the railway lands at Khilgaon, which have been applied for in the
lease application, are in a bit of a low-lying area. Some portion of the
land is low-lying, some part is covered by sand, and the rest of the
land has been encroached upon by illegal occupiers. At present, the
railways are not utilising the land; there is no possibility of the
railways using it either. At least 13 acres of land are now under the
possession of encroachers. The railways have failed to recover these.
The
railway ministry disclosed that after reviewing the application of the
South Point School and College, the Railway Land Distribution Committee
has sent it to the railway minister with its recommendations. The
committee said leases or licences have been issued earlier for using
railway lands for the purpose of expanding education in schools,
colleges and Madrasas, as well as for resisting the encroachment of
railway lands. Hence, the educational institution can be permitted to
use the land as per conditions, the committee recommended.
The
railways said, “Every year, the licence fee for the land use should be
renewed by June 30 for the next year. Provided that if the railway
authority bring any amendment, omission or alteration in its land use
policy, or if the authority brings any amendment or addition, the
licensee is bound to obey it, and the railways will be the absolute
owner of the lands. And, if the educational institution of the
foundation is shut down or abandoned, the structure of the building will
be regarded as railway property and no compensation for the loss will
be given.” The conditions also stipulate that the institution will
reserve 5 per cent of seats for the children of the employers and
employees for call one and keep 50 per cent concession for admission and
tuition fees. It will also provide prerogatives for the children of the
employers and employees for recruitment to the posts of teachers and
employers and employees. The director general (east) of railways, or
his/her nominated representatives, can visit the institution at any
time. The design of the institution has to be approved by the chief
engineer (east) of the railways. In addition, a person nominated by the
general manager (east) of the
railways will be the member of the school committee.
The
railways have already granted permissions to different organisations,
to use its lands through licences. Of them, Bangladesh Diabetic Samity,
Chittagong, is using 1 acre, Bangladesh Ondho Kalyan Samity, Chittagong,
0.93 acre, Bangladesh Kidney Foundation, Chittagong, 1.21 acres,
Chittagong Officers’ Club, Chittagong, 9.11 katha, Bangladesh Manoshik
Kalyan and Educational Samity, Chittagong, 14,000 sq. ft, Chittagong
Institute of Management Science, 2.50 acres, Society for Assistance to
Hearing Impaired Children, Chittagong, 0.60 acres, IDE Bangladesh,
Chittagong, 0.60 acres, William Kerry Academy School, Chittagong, 2.18
acres, Roman Catholic Bishop, Chittagong, 3.844 acres, Islamic Medical
Mission, Chittagong, 1 acre, Islamic Medical Mission, Chittagong, 3.78
acres, University of Technology, Chittagong, 1.43 acres, UCEP School
Pahartoli, Chittagong, 9,849 sq. ft, UCEP School Jhowtola, Chittagong,
37,800 sq. ft, South Pahartoli Primary School, Chittagong, 0.53 acre,
Sarishabari Mahila College, Jamalpur, 3 acres, Railway Public School
Pologround, 1.26 acres, No. 1 Jetty Gate Jame Masjid, Chittagong, 0.10
acre, Mirza Abbas Mahila Degree College, Dhaka, 0.75 acre, TPP Colony
Junior High School Pahartoli, Chittagong, 0.70 acre, Jhowtola Jame
Masjid and Madrasa, Chittagong, 13,047 sq. ft, Pahartoli College,
Chittagong, 3 acres, Pahartoli Railway Hospital Colony Primary School,
Chittagong, 2,800 sq. ft, Institution of Engineers, Chittagong, 1.13
acres, Chittagong Mahila Samity, 2.6 acres, Shajahanpur Chistiya
Mission, Dhaka, 0.165 acres, Railway Hospital Colony Masjid 6,900 sq.
ft, Bangladesh Railway Somobay Wrindaan Samity, Chittagong, 1,500 sq.
ft, and Wireless Jhowtola Colony Bohumukhi Uchha Biddalay, Pahartoli,
Chittagong, 68,000 sq. ft.
The railway minister, advocate Mojibul Haque, said, “We’ve been trying to recover the lands that have been encroached upon.”
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