Since a SA survey in 1956, no government survey was ever conducted in the Banaripara upazila of Barisal district in the last 60 years. As a result, land dispute has reached a boiling point in this area. Moreover, updating records, tax management and mutation process are being greatly hampered.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Shahidul Islam said, “Due to the lack of updated survey as well as the deterioration of the existing record volume, accurate information about land ownership and schedule codes could not be found. As a result, updating records, tax management and mutation process are being greatly hampered. To solve this problem, alluvial and settlement surveys are essential.” However, he denied that the land office officials are allegedly taking bribes.
Many sufferers complained that accurate information about the ownership and scheduling of land could not be found as the record volumes have been largely destroyed. Moreover, the vast khas lands in the char islands on the banks of river Sandhya could not be brought under proper management due to the absence of any alluvial survey. As a result, land grabbers are occupying these lands without any lease. Violent clashes among various groups for the ownership of these lands break out especially during the cultivation and harvest seasons every year.
The fights usually end up in the court. The general people of this area are wasting their valuable time and money behind these cases. Besides, the Banaripara upazila and union-level land offices have essentially been turned into dens of harassment. These offices are riddled with political influence, irregularities, corruption and negligence of the officials. The local influential land grabbers are taking full advantage of the situation and recklessly occupying vast areas of khas land and debottar property. While thousands of people in this Upazila are living in inhuman conditions after losing their lands and homes to river erosion, illegal constructions are being made on public lands.
During the immediate past caretaker regime, the joint forces conducted eviction raids and recovered parts of the illegally occupied areas in the municipal area. However, this successful operation was mysteriously and abruptly abandoned. The influential land grabbers are openly occupying the new char lands on the banks of river Sandhya. The local administration is maintaining complete silence regarding this issue. The local land office failed to provide any updated document regarding how much khas land is currently under illegal occupation. There is no accurate record about the rightful ownership and lease history either.
The position of deputy commissioner (land) was vacant for almost a decade. On August 27, 2009, Pankaj Ghosh was appointed in the post. However, he was transferred to another district on May 11 2011. The position remained vacant for a few years. On May 12 of the current year, Ishrat Jahan assumed this position, but left it on the last week of November after getting a promotion. As for now, this important post is vacant once again.