Plots have to be allotted to persons who have made especial contributions to the government service, public service and other fields of national importance, according to the rules.
Flouting the rules, plots have allegedly been allotted on political consideration.
At least 285 people have been allotted various types of plots in reserved quota by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) in the last three years.
Of them, 149 people are incumbent and former members of parliament (MPs) while others are top bureaucrats, office assistants, and former Chattara League and Mohila Awami League leaders.
Lawmakers, who own house, plots and flats in Dhaka, also received the RAJUK plots in special quota. RAJUK officials said they have just followed the instructions of the ministry.
According to records of RAJUK’s plot allocation for last three years (2018-20), plots for reserved quota have been distributed in RAJUK's Purbachal New Town Project, Jhilmil Housing Project, Uttara Phase III and Uttara Residential Area.
Some 285 people have been allotted 249 plots as several people have shared their plots. Of which, 212 plots are in RAJUK's Purbachal New Town Project.
According to sources at RAJUK, several freedom fighters, an Independence Award recipient swimmer and an Ekushy Award recipient are among those who are eligible for receiving plots in quota.
Two former and incumbent chairmen of RAJUK, the organisation that faces lots of allegations over irregularities, also secured two plots claiming contribution to 'enhancing public service'. Officials who are now on deputation in RAJUK also get plots in special quota.
99 MPs get plots in just one meeting
Some 240 out of 285 people were allocated plots before the 11th parliamentary election in 2018.
Ninety-nine members of parliament (MPs), including 36 lawmakers from the reserved seat for women, get the plots at the fifth board meeting (5/2018) of that year. Most of them are Awami League lawmakers.
The rest of the MPs are from the allies of Awami League-led Grand Alliance -- Jatiya Party (JaPa), Jatiya Party (JP), Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasad) and Tarikat Federation.
Chairman of Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF), Abul kamal Azad, who was elected lawmaker from Dhaka-17 constituency, also received a plot.
According to the records of RAJUK, the housing and public works ministry sent a list of 99 lawmakers.
RAJUK then finalised the allotment of the plots for 99 MPs in Purbachal and MPs in Jhilmil area claiming that rules have been followed.
However, according to the RAJUK rules and a letter sent by the housing and public works ministry to the RAJUK – reference no.-admin-6/RAJ-66/98-114-1(113), person applying for a plot will not be allotted a plot under the reserved quota, if the applicant, his/her spouse or any of his/her family members owns or gets lease of any residential land, house, plot or flat in the area under the jurisdiction of RAJUK.
Even if the applicant inherits or buy any land, house or flat, the person will become ineligible for a plot in reserved quota.
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik, this rules should be applicable to all including the lawmakers. No doubt violation of the rules is illegal, he added.
Records of the lists of lawmakers receiving plots in last three years show, more than one lawmaker and their family members own one or more flats in Dhaka. Several others own lands too.
State minister for industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder is among them. He has got a plot in Purbachal. Kamal Ahmed Majumder told Prothom Alo that he inherited a home in Dhaka city.
When asked why he applied for the RAJUK plot, Kamal Ahmed Majumder said all lawmakers have got it.
He claimed that earlier rules did not allow someone to get a RAJUK plot if the person owns a house in Dhaka. But the rule has been changed. After that, he applied for the plot.
Citing the name of several lawmakers including the two MPs from Mirpur area, he said those MPs have taken the plot despite owning houses in Dhaka.
The ruling party lawmaker said he applied for a 10-katha plot but was given a 3-katha one. He didn’t take it and applied for changing it to a 10-katha one.
Former minister and incumbent lawmaker Kazi Firoz Rashid is known as a rich person among the politicians of Jatiya Party. He also took a plot of 7 katha in Purbachal.
According to the affidavits submitted to the election commission, his wife owns as many as 20 flats. He told Prothom Alo that he owned a house in Dhanmondi.
He claimed all lawmakers have been allocated plots. The rule, which states person owning land and house in Dhaka is ineligible for a plot, is not applicable to lawmakers, he added.
Similarly, lawmaker Sukumar Ranjan Ghosh of Munsiganj-1 constituency has been allocated a 3-katha plot in Purbachal. But his election affidavit shows he owns 27 decimals of land in Gazipur’s Joydebpur, and 3 katha of land in Nikunja-1 and 2.5 katha of land in Malibagh of Dhaka.
His wife owns an apartment in Dhanmondi and one of his dependents owns another plot in the same area.
According to the 1969 Allotment of Lands Rules of RAJUK, when RAJUK takes any housing project it publishes public advertisement in the media to allocate plots to the people from different strata. Other than this, some plots are kept exclusively for the government, known as the plot of the reserved quota.
Provision 13(A) of the Lands Rules states that plots can be allotted to persons who have made remarkable contributions in government service, public service and other field of national importance.
In that case, the persons will have to apply to the prime minister or the housing and public works ministry. If the government approved the application, it will be placed at RAJUk’s board or general meeting. The matter of plot allotment is finalised at the board meeting.
Asked on the misuse of the reserved quota (provision 13(A), RAJUK chairman (acting) Md Shafi Ul Haque told Prothom Alo on Saturday that RAJUK doesn’t have the sole authority to allot plots under the provision 13(A). RAJUK makes the allotment as per the list or name sent by the ministry, he added.
Regarding this, state minister for housing and public works Sharif Ahmed, who also took a 3-katha plot, did not make any comment over phone.
Housing and public works ministry secretary Md Shahid Ullah Khandaker told Prothom Alo that, taking the contribution to the government service and other fields of national importance into consideration, plots are allotted following the rules.
Both the ministry and the RAJUK can verify how much contribution someone has made.
However, if rules are violated in allocating the plots legal action can be taken. There is no separate quota for the lawmakers, the secretary added.
No plot for affected people
The Purbachal New Town Project is the biggest housing project of RAJUK. More than one officials of RAJUK said 10 per cent of the plots have been kept reserved in Purbachal. The quota has been filled up long ago. But many people affected during the land acquisition haven’t received the plots yet. According to the rules of RAJUK, people whose land or homes have been acquired will get priority in allotting plots.
According to RAJUK source, a total of 3,554 applications for plots were submitted in the affected or indigenous category (those who are yet to get plots), in Purabchal. After scrutinising, some 1,453 applications were considered eligible. But the reality is that Purbcahal doesn’t have so many plots.
A top official of RAJUK, on condition of anonymity, said, to allot plots to the affected peoples, RAJUK has taken initiative to create 1,197 plots (a 3-katha plot) on 89 acres of land in sector 15 and 28 of Purbachal after changing the design since the land was designated for apartment block. But the move will require the court’s approval. Environmentalists have filed a case over the change in design.
Discontent in RAJUK
According to a section of RAJUK officials and employees, provision 13(A) of RAJUK’s land allotment rules is being misused. Many people are infuriated since they didn’t get plots after working at the RAJUK for long. This section of people demands formulation of that rules to allot plots for them similar to the reserved quota.
President of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) and former adviser to caretaker government, M Hafizuddin Khan also thinks provision 13(A) of RAJUK’s land allotment rules is being misused.
He told Prothom Alo that plots are being allotted on political consideration.
"To the best of my knowledge, people who are getting the plots haven’t made any significant contribution. This practice should stop," Hafizuddin addede.
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna