They lost over 6 lakh bighas of land in 30 years | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 05, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:07 AM, August 05, 2013

Plain Land Indigenous Communities

They lost over 6 lakh bighas of land in 30 years

Seminar told

Plain land indigenous communities, including Santal, Hajong, Khashi, Orao, Dalu, Patro and Pahan, have lost over six lakh bighas of land to grabbers in the last three decades, said speakers at a seminar in the capital yesterday.
“The current value of the lost pieces of land, approximately six lakh seven thousand bighas, is Tk 9,043 crore," said Dr Abul Barkat, chairperson of Bangladesh Economic Association, citing a study conducted by Association for Land Reform and Development and Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum.
The seminar titled "International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples and Land Rights of Indigenous People" was organised by the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum in Cirdap to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, to be observed on August 9.
In addition, the study also revealed that in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, the amount of land used by indigenous communities for jhum cultivation reduced from 73.4 percent to 48.8 percent in the last three decades, whereas land used for commercial agriculture has gone up to 32 percent from 10.4 percent, stated Dr Barkat.
"This shows how much the livelihood and lifestyle of the indigenous people have been transgressed upon by outsiders," he added.
Correspondingly, indigenous people currently make up less than half of the total population of the CHT region, whereas three decades ago, they used to be the vast majority, said Dr Barkat, quoting the study.
Chakma Raja Devasish Roy emphasised the need for implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, 1997.
The accord maintains that only the hill district councils (HDC) can administer and grant land exchanges, whereas in reality, the deputy commissioner still holds that power, with HDCs and indigenous chiefs only playing an advisory role, said Raja Devasish.

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