The lands would not be grabbed if there were a master plan for all the lands, he said adding that some of the lands are unused for years. Grabbers have taken the matter to the court after grabbing some lands.

An official of NHA’s Dhaka division-1 said Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) took 22 acres of land without any sort of permission during the expansion of a road.

Two private housing companies have grabbed 19 acres of land. A case is going on to recover these lands. Some 11 more acres of land have been given to two government agencies and a private organisation following a permission. Some stranded Pakistanis are living in some of these lands and some Bangladeshis have also grabbed lands.

These acquired lands are in Baunia badh mozja, which is known as Kalapani to the locals. In a recent visit, it’s found out that Biharis (stranded Pakistanis) are living in a major portion of these lands. A makeshift camp for Biharis has been erected there. NHA said no permission was taken before establishing the camp. Signboards of two private housing companies are erected in some of the lands.

DNCC mayor Md Atiqul Islam told Prothom Alo that NHA’s land had to be taken for expanding a road. But money has been allocated for compensation under the project. We would give NHA the money as compensation.

According to the report, the lands of sector no. 9 were handed over to NHA in 1981 for construction of 11,264 flats. A government order in 2008 asked the authorities to recover the lands from grabbers but NHA did not take any initiative to this end. They, however, established two housing projects named Swapnanagar-1 and Swapnanagar-2 on the 26.15 acres of land. A total of 2,600 flats would be built under these two projects.

The report says, apart from the lands in section 9, NHA did not make any list for at least 609 acres of land in seven mouzas of Mirpur housing estate. These lands were also grabbed. The current market price of these lands is Tk 92.11 billion (9211 crore). Of these seven mouzas, 124.12 acres of land were gazatted after acquisition in Senpara Parbata mouza in 60s and 70s of the last century.

NHA could not give any information about 113.36 acres of land in Lalasorai mouza, 133.17 acres in Dhamalkot mouza, 76.16 acre in Joarshahara mouza, 151.47 acres in Ibrahimpur mouza, 9 acres in Boro Sayek mouza and 1.9 acres in Choto Sayek mouza which were acquired and gazatted at that time.

Asked about the amount of NHA’s land in Mirpur area and how much of these lands are in NHA’s possession, Mirpur housing department’s surveyor Omar Faruk said he has been posted here recently and cannot give the specific information.

Surveyor of Dhaka division-1 Motin Khan said there are lists of 3352.51 acres of land of NHA in the whole Mirpur area. But he could not specify how much of these lands are currently under NHA’s possession.

He thinks the government lands in Kurmitola slum in Mirpur-12, Chalantika slum in Mirpur-6, lands near Beribadh area in Mirpur-11, and around Sony cinema hall are all grabbed.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Dhaka division-1 executive engineer Joardar Tabedun Nabi said all the lands are not grabbed and some of these lands are in their possession. The lands which were allotted, are being handed over to the allottees.

The lands with legal problems are first being cleared of legal tangles and then eviction drives are being conducted there.

More grabbed lands

CAG’s annual report says 20 acres of government’s land in Mirpur-4, which were acquired 47 years ago, worth Tk 3.63 billion (363 crore) are grabbed for not making inventory and failing to keep under possession.

Citing a news report published on 17 August, 2019, the CAG’s report said there are 3,000 houses in the area. A toll of Tk 5000-10,000 are being collected from each house. Around Tk 20 to 30 million is being collected each month as toll.

During a recent visit, it was found out that there is a slum in the land of NHA. The slum is known as Chalantika slum to the locals. Residents said ruling party leaders and activists collect tolls from the inhabitants while some NHA officials are also involved in toll collection.

Land of Mirpur-4 was listed under NHA in the last city survey. According to the report, the lands were not recovered to give some people a scope to misappropriate the government land worth Tk 3.63 billion.

Officials of NHA’s Dhaka division-1 said some slums were sprouted in the area and eviction drives would be conducted if any government development project is taken.

At least 230 kathas of land in Mirpur-1 are also grabbed. Swadhin Bangla Super Market is constructed on 1.15 acres of land. NHA said the land where the market was constructed had been allotted as rehabilitation plots for the victims of land acquisition. The land cannot be recovered as cases are underway regarding the ownership.

Several NHA officials, on condition of anonymity, told Prothom Alo that local powerful people constructed the market. It is alleged that Iqbal Hossain alias Titu, a former councillor of Dhaka North City Corporation’s ward No. 12, is one of them.

He denied his involvement with the construction of the market.

Iqbal said NHA can demolish the market if they are the owner of the land.

According to the report, there are 94 commercial plots, 21 institutional plots, 58 industrial plots and 1,018 rehabilitation plots in Mirpur-1. There is no inventory or registrar of these plots. But the audit department has learnt these plots are of 2-2.5 kathas. The price of these 230 kathas of land is at least Tk 1.15 billion (115 crore).

NHA allotted plots, but did not hand over

NHA thinks that the lands could be recovered as development projects are taken in the area. But they did not hand over the lands which they had allocated. As many as 144 persons were allotted lands at B block in Mirpur-11 some 27 years ago. They made the payment following due procedure. Still, the NHA did not hand over them the plots. Some 44 persons were allotted plots at extended Rupnagar residential area in Mirpur-5 some 36 years ago. But the NHA has not handed over the plots. These plots are still under the occupation of grabbers.

NHA’s chairman Delwar Haider told Prothom Alo that eviction drive is a continuous process.

He said they set a target on how much land to be recovered in a given year and they have to follow many procedures in this end.

“We would never want others to grab our lands,” Delwar added.

Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman, however, said a section of officials amass illegal wealth by giving advantage to the grabbers. This is the main reason behind not recovering the government lands.

Iftekharuzzaman told Prothom Alo that huge amount of public properties have been grabbed and those who are involved with that misappropriation should be punished through a neutral investigation.

These malpractices cannot be stopped if accountability is established, he added.

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