Cabinet okays bill on CHT land dispute

The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013 aimed at making the Commission more active and effective.The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the amendment to the existing law of 2001 has been proposed after consultation with the concerned stakeholders to make the law more effective.

He said that the Cabinet after taking into consideration all the concerns has approved the proposed amendment to the law and it would be beneficial to both the settlers and the local tribal people.

Earlier, last week, the amendment to the proposed law was approved by the Cabinet in principle.

After the proposed amendment bill is passed by the parliament, the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission will be able to function actively and effectively.

The proposed amendment to the law said that the lands of the CHT area, which remained under illegal occupation and used for the rehabilitation of the refugees in light of the CHT Peace Accord of 1997, will come under the jurisdiction of the Commission.

The amendment to the proposed law said that majority members of the 5-member commission including the chairman could settle the land dispute of rehabilitated refuges in the Chittagong Hill Tracts if unanimous decision could not be made.

Under the existing provision, unanimous decision is needed to settle the dispute and in the absence of unanimous decision, the chairman of the commission alone could give the decision.

The amendment also proposed to give priority to the local tribal people while recruiting the manpower for the commission.

The Cabinet has given directives to the Land Ministry to frame necessary rules within three months for the execution of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act.

Besides, under the proposed amendment, concerned Circle Chief of the CHT, if he or she is unable to attend a meeting of the Commission as a member, can send a representative with full authority to give decision on any issue.

The day’s Cabinet meeting also approved the draft of the ‘Debottor (endowment) Property Management Bill, 2013’ aimed at fulfilling the longstanding demand of the country‘s Hindu community.

The Cabinet Secretary said that the proposed law aims at preventing grabbing of `debottor’ (endowed) properties alongside preventing its transfer, upgrading its management and thus ensuring proper maintenance of such property.

The proposed law also keeps a provision for Tk 5,000 fine or one-year jail in case of negligence of the ‘Debottor’ property management while the punishment would be Tk 50,000 fine or one-year jail in case of giving false information.

He said that under the proposed law, a central management board will be constituted to look after the endowed properties of the Hindu community.

The vice chairman of the Hindu Religious Welfare Trust will be the chairman of the 15-member management board where all the members would be eminent personalities from the Hindu community while a new post of an administrator will be created for running the day to day affairs of the board.

Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the administrator would be drawn from the Hindu community and the administrator would also act as the member secretary of the Management Board.

Similar boards will be formed at the district level, which will be headed by the concerned deputy commissioners.

The Cabinet meeting was informed about the 10th meeting of Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission held on February 25-26, 2013 in Saudi Arabia; visit of Bangladesh delegation to Turkey headed by Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister on April 18-23, 2013; visit of Cultural Affairs Minister to Iran May 7-9 to attend the `Asia-Cooperation Dialogue: Ministerial Meeting on Cultural Cooperation’; and the participation of Bangladesh delegation at Pacific Energy Summit, 2013 on April 2-4 in Canada.

Ministers, Advisers to the Prime Minister, State Ministers and Secretaries concerned attended the meeting. (Source: UNB)

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