Abdul Shuruk, from Sairai Dail village, had his 80 decimals of land acquired for the Matarbari deep seaport. His land was taken over three months ago and as of 5 July, he has not received the compensation.

An agent promised him to bring the compensation cheque on in exchange of 30 per cent commission but that agent fled after the arrest of surveyor Atikur Rahman, he added.

Names of the seven-man land broker gang involved in commission business with Atikur Rahman are well known in Moheshkhali. They are Ahmad Ullah, Qutbuddin and Taj Uddin of Dhalghata, Ashek Ullah of Matarbari Union, Mohammad Mizan of Eidgaon area, Maulvi Abul Bashar and Mohammad Jahed of Ukhiya. They all have gone into hiding.

Several people who had their land acquired admitted to receiving compensation cheques only after paying a commission. They claimed surveyor Atikur Rahman had swindled more than Tk 50 million through agents from this project over the past 3-4 months, and the agents processed compensation documents and exchanged bribe money at rented houses in Chattogram city and Cox’s Bazar.

Another land owner, on condition of anonymity, said an agent from Dhalghata assisted him to submit documents on his 25 acres of land to the LA office at a 25 per cent commission. The cheque was supposed to be provided before Eid-u-Azha. Now the surveyor is behind bars and the agent is nowhere to be found.

Amir Hosain, Qutubuddin, Sarwar Kamal and Shah Alam Gong of Banjamiraghona area of Dhalghata union also made similar allegations.

Four months ago, Amir Hosain, Sarwar Kamal and Shah Alam Gong each had an acre of land acquired for the seaport while Qutubuddin had 18 decimals of land acquired. They had been in contact with surveyor and none of them have received cheque as yet. But several landowners who had their land acquired along with them have already got their compensation cheques with the help of the agents.

Moheshkali upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), however, has no knowledge about commission business by surveyor and land broker ring. He said the LA branch of the district administration issues cheque on compensation for land acquisition.

Land acquisition officer of the LA branch Arafat Siddique claimed there is no scope for corruption in providing compensation cheques. Entry is banned in office premises except for land owners and CCTV camera are installed everywhere, he added.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna.