Unmasking the forest thieves: JS body to make list of 90,000 forest grabbers public | The Daily Star
11:13 PM, October 20, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:26 PM, October 20, 2020

Unmasking the forest thieves: JS body to make list of 90,000 forest grabbers public

The parliamentary standing committee on environment has decided to make public the list of 90,000 individuals and organisations, who have grabbed around 2.87 lakh acres of forestland across the country.

The parliamentary watchdog came up with the decision at its meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on Monday.

The environment, forest and climate change ministry informed the Jatiya Sangsad committee that 90,000 individuals and organisations illegally occupying the country's 2.87 lakh acres of forestland of the forest department.

Cox's Bazar district has the highest 59.471 thousand acres of forestland illegally grabbed by different individuals and organisations, the committee was informed.

Ruling Awami League MP and chief of the parliamentary watchdog, Saber Hossain Chowdhury said they would make the names of individuals and organisations public who have the government's forest land.

"We want to see who has occupied these forestlands. We want it so that even an inch amount of forestland cannot be occupied illegally by anyone," he added.

Saber Hossain said that the parliamentary committee also asked the ministry for a detailed report on the current state of the occupied forestland.

"We want to see how many notices have been issued to evict the occupants and what steps have been taken by the authorities concerned. Who were the lawyers? The forest department, the ministry and the parliamentary committee will now work to recover the land on an emergency basis," he added.

According to the working paper of the parliamentary committee, the total amount of forestland of different classes in the country is 46.47 lakh acres at present.

The forest department has handed over 1.60 lakh acres of land to various organisations including the Armed Forces, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh.

The ministry informed the parliamentary committee that influential industrialists and individuals have forcibly occupied the forestland and they take stay order from higher court through filing appeal when the respective authorities start eviction activities against the land grabbers.

Besides, local people and administration and law enforcement agencies do not cooperate in the eviction activities, the ministry informed the standing committee.

About the reasons behind grabbing of vast forestland, the ministry said the forestland was originally recorded in the CS record but later recorded in the name of various individuals or organisations in the SA/RS/BS survey.

In addition, the construction of various infrastructures through the forest, especially the construction of roads, increases the tendency of encroachment of forestland on both sides, the ministry said.

Local people and influential people have occupied the forestlands and built permanent establishments, houses, roads, markets, schools and institutions. Industries have been set up on many occupied forestlands.

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