Thousands of char people, gripped with fear of land acquisition, in Mymensingh opined that their homesteads and farmlands can be saved if the newly planned Mymensingh divisional city is set up along the Brahmaputra river.
There are vast tracts of fallow and khas land on both sides of Brahmaputra river from Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) campus to Khagdahor area, they said, adding that if the new divisional city is established alongside the river it will also fulfil the prime minister's desire to build the city like London on the bank of Thames river.
They also suggested that if the khas land is used a vast tract of government land will be recovered in the process and expenditure for the infrastructure development will be less than the current estimate.
Many char people alleged that an influential quarter is active to divert the land acquisition process from the bank of Brahmaputra to the farmland of nearby villages.
The land in the fresh acquisition list of 4366 acres is densely populated as some 20,000 families, mostly small and marginal farmers and sharecroppers live there.
The areas include Char Ishwardia, Char Anandipur, Char Gobindapur, Char Bhawanipur, Char Durgapur, Char Jelkhana and Char Laxmir Algee in Sadar upazila where different types of vegetables and other crops are cultivated round the year.
Char people have been protesting the proposed land acquisition for two years under the banner of 'Basotbhita Rokkha Committee,' demanding exemption of their homesteads and farmlands from the fresh acquisition list.
“We hope the authorities concerned will revise their decision and save farmlands and homesteads of thousands of poor char people living here for years,” farmer Jamal Uddin of Char Ishwardia said.
Due to rapid growth of human settlements and other infrastructure developments the volume of farmland is gradually declining, Joint-Convener of the committee Shahidul Islam said, adding that the authorities concerned should revise the fresh acquisition list.
Earlier, acquisition of 1220 acres of land in the first phase was scrapped and a fresh list of 4366 acres was prepared later, the leader said.
“On various occasions we urged the authorities to prepare a balanced list comprising of four unions Char Nilaxia, Char Ishwardia, Char Sirta and Khagdahor along the Brahmaputra,” Convener of the committee Prof Syed Mosharraf Hossain said.
General Secretary of Mymensingh Nagarik Andolon Engineer Abul Kalam said the new divisional city should be established avoiding human settlements and farmlands.
Prof Dr Abdur Rahim, also director of Germ Plasma Centre at BAU, said as the country is based on agriculture and farmlands should not be brought under development purposes.