20,000 acres of Modhupur forest leased illegally in five years | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 25, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 25, 2008

20,000 acres of Modhupur forest leased illegally in five years

Lessees include people enjoying political clout

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Over 20,000 acres of forestland in Modhupur Garh area in Tangail were allotted to people enjoying political clout and influentials illegally during BNP rule.
A section of corrupt forest officials leased the lands defying law and depriving local indigenous and landless people who were supposed to get those under the then government's community afforestation programme, sources said.
Forests in Modhupur Garh region in Tangail were earlier spread over 1,22,876 acres in five upazilas--45,565 acres in Modhupur, 47,220 in Sakhipur, 21,855 in Ghatail, 7,576 in Mirzapur and 669 acres in Kalihati, forest department sources said.
Of the total forest area in Tangail, 55,476 acres are reserve forests-- 38,232 acres in Sakhipur, 7,275 in Mirzapur, 7,251 in Ghatail, 2,500 in Modhupur and 185 acres in Kalihati, the sources said.
Besides, there are 17,436 acres of forest under Modhupur Garh region in Mymensingh district.
Once famous for Sal and Gajari forests, the Modhupur Garh also abounds with forests of Mehgini, Segun, Garjan, Aurjun, Karay, Jarul, Kaika, Gandi and Paiya trees.
During the last BNP government, 20,000 acres of forestland in Modhupur Garh in Tangail were selected for allocation under community afforestation pogramme to benefit poor local people.
It was decided that the plots of forestland would be given to people living within one kilometer of the allotted land and indigenous and landless people would get preference.
But after allocation of the plots, it was seen that the lands went to political cadres, government officials, businessmen and land owners from far away areas.
Many indigenous and landless people in Modhupur, Sakhipur, Ghatail, Mirzapur and Kalihati under Modhupur Garh told the The Daily Star that political cadres and rich landowners accused in cases for plundering forests got the lands allegedly in exchange of hefty bribes.
The demanded investigation in the alleged irregularities and cancellation of the allocation. They also demanded punishment of forest officials responsible for this.
Forest officials however denied the allegation.
When contacted, Shah-e-Alam, divisional forest officer (DFO) in Tangail, said he joined recently and does not know about the alleged irregularities in allocating the forest plots. "We will take initiatives to cancel the allocations if those are done properly”, he added.

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