A pointer to incumbents’ bias towards rail land grabbers
The snail’s pace at which the Bangladesh Railway is reclaiming its land grabbed by various quarters yet again reinforces the question if the incumbent government is at all serious about completing the task in its tenure due to end in a few months. According to a New Age report on Thursday, the railway authorities at present own 61,605.85 acres of land, of which more than 4,465 acres have remained under encroachment till June 2013, Despite repeated pledges on the incumbents’ part to evict the rail land grabbers, however, only 184.8399 acres that account for less than four per cent of the department’s occupied land have been freed from grabbers. It may be pertinent to mention that the then government in 2007 assigned a private firm to conduct a survey over the occupied railway land and suggest a plan on the proper use of the land by June 2012. Regrettably, however, nobody can say for sure when the firm will be able to produce the results of its survey, with the firm having already missed another deadline in June.
Meanwhile, the attempt made by the railway minister in parliament on June 20 to attribute the failure to reclaim the occupied land to not getting cooperation from the deputy commissioners and law enforcement agencies appears tenuous. It is all the more so as it is the latter’s duty to carry out the government order. Besides, no actions taken against any of the defiant officials have been seen so far. The grabbing of railway land, a significant part of which is in prime locations in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country and has thus become more precious day by day, did not take place overnight; it occurred year after year under the nose of the railway authorities. Against this backdrop, one may conclude that the grabbers have definitely enjoyed political clout under successive governments. The failure of the incumbents to break the reported nexus between the grabbers and the corrupt railway officials thus far also provides a pointer to the fact that railway land grabbers continue to have political clout under this government as well.
The government needs to realise that due to illegal encroachment on the vast swathe of its land, the railway department that incurs a significant amount of loss every year for different reasons has to lose a huge sum of revenue. Hence, there is indeed no room for continuing its foot-dragging about reclaiming the occupied rail land.
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