Irregularities in land acquisition in Cox’s Bazar revealed
An investigative report in The Daily Star on September 19 revealed that a nexus of district land officials, politicians, journalists and middlemen are feasting on land acquisition for 21 development projects of the government in Cox's Bazar. According to government documents, land acquisition for the Single Mooring Point Project being implemented by Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation began in Sonapara village under Kalarmarchhara union of Moheshkhali upazila on September 18. Forty acres of land were acquired there, leading to eviction of at least 400 poor families. While under the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act, 2017, the government is supposed to pay three times the market value of land acquired in compensation for the owners, these families were not even paid the market price of their land.
The same happened in the land acquisition process for 20 other big development projects in the district. And all of these were only made public after Rab recently arrested one person in relation to this with cash and diaries. An investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) found that a huge nexus comprising big shots of the district— the land acquisition branch of Cox's Bazar district administration, top political leaders of the district, local journalists and middlemen—held people hostage throughout the land acquisition process. The ACC also found that the syndicates not only forced the landowners to sell their land at low prices but also compelled them to pay huge sums of bribes to get necessary documents.
We call upon the government to immediately identify and break these syndicates who have been leeching off of government projects and evicting the local people unlawfully. It is good to know that the ACC has already identified the nexus and have frozen the bank accounts of the Cox's Bazar mayor, Mojibor Rahman, councillors and officials who were actively involved in the racket. We hope all other high-level government officials, political leaders and the middlemen involved in this will be identified and held to account. Action should be taken against them according to the law for corruption on such a large scale. At the same time, the evicted land owners should be compensated for their sufferings. They should at least get the fair price of their land according to the law.