The upazila nirbahi officer of Ramgarh upazila in Khagrachhari allegedly misused his power and leased five acres of khas land of the government and razed a hill for making road, violating the rules in this regard.
"From 2003, khas land settlement for personal interest was totally stopped in Chattogram Hill Tracts following a circular of the CHT Affairs Ministry," Pratap Chandra Biswas, deputy commissioner of Khagrachhari district, said.
However, Ramgarh UNO ANM Badruddoza took lease of 18 acres of land in the upazila, including five acres of khas land, at Tk 10 lakh for 30 years for a personal project.
He also allegedly installed a government solar-powered light for his personal use, and levelled a hill to make road for the project.
Contacted, UNO Badruddoza said, "We took 18 acres of land, including five acres of khas land, from locals in the area in the name of 'Friends Fund Shomobay Samity' for thirty years on April 1 this year.
"I am a member of the Samity, the fourteen members of which are my friends," said the UNO.
UNO Badruddoza, a BCS Cadre from 29th BCS, joined his duty on February 23 this year according to the government website.
MD Saiful Islam, a local journalist, said, "The UNO razed hills using excavator and used a government's solar-powered light for his personal project around two weeks ago."
The UNO, however, denied cutting hills to make a road and also said the solar light was not the government's but his own.
"As there is government logo on the light, I will change it," UNO Badruddoza added.
Asked how they took lease of khas land without government's approval, the UNO said, "It is true that government's approval is needed to take khas land as lease. Actually we didn't want to deprive the people from whom we took the lease."
He confessed that he did not take permission from Khagrachhari Hill District Council (KHDC) and claimed that he took the lease unofficially for only gardening.
Md Musa, one of the locals who leased the land, said "We approached the UNO to sell our land in the hills including khas land which was in our possession, but the UNO suggested that he lease it for 30 years instead."
Mong Sheprue Chowdhury, headman of Ramgarh mouza, said "It is unfortunate that no one took permission regarding this."
As per the rules, for any sale or lease of land in the hill areas, one needs to take permission from the mouza chief or headman.
According to the Hill District Council Act-1989 and Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation-1900, no land, including khas land, shall be leased out, settled with, purchased, sold, or transferred without prior approval of the concerned department.
"It is a violation of the law if anybody or any organisation takes lease of khas land in CHT without permission from the district administration," Khagrachhari DC said.
"As we did not get any official or unofficial allegation against the UNO of Ramgarh upazila, we could not take action in this connection," DC Pratap added.