“We have to categorise the land to minimise the loss of cropland” Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina has asked the land minister to prepare a detailed plan of the country’s land, including "khash land, soon to ensure its best utilisation through “land zoning” for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, rural and urban settlement, and industry and infrastructure through modern technology.
The Premier has given this instruction to the land minister at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), the meeting sources said quoting the PM. “We have to categorise the land to minimise the loss of cropland. We must stop the indiscriminate use of land by preparing guidelines for land use for different regions, rationalising land acquisition and synchronising land use with the natural environment,” the sources said further quoting the Premier.
Land ministry secretary-in-charge Md Maksudur Rahman Patwary told The Independent that the land minister had advised him to take necessary steps to prepare a detailed land plan.
For that, a project would be taken up soon, he said.
“At the same time, we have prepared a draft of the ’Agricultural Land Protection and Land Use Act’ to ensure land utilisation properly,” he added.
The land secretary said that the ministry already completed a pilot project on land zoning. It is being reviewed by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED), he added.
“After getting a report from the IMED in this regard, we will take a decision about taking up another project for land zoning across the country to increase income generation opportunities through proper utilisation of land resources. This will help reduce poverty and provide food security,” the land secretary said.
He also said that they would sit with the authorities of the Land Reforms Board and the land survey department to find out a way to prepare a guideline for land use.
Sources in the land ministry said the draft of ’Agricultural Land Protection and Land Use Act’ had been prepared in line with the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to protect farmland and prevent the misuse of land in the name of urbanisation.
On February 25, 2015, during a meeting of the ’National Committee on Land Use’, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had given around 35 directives and observations to the land authorities for proper utilisation of multi-crop land and special land zoning for crops. But most of those directives are yet to be implemented.
According to the draft law, a land zoning map would be prepared for all the union parishads and municipalities under upazilas and districts after testing the ’usefulness and excellence’ of the land.
The maps will be used for determining the varieties of crops suitable for different areas. Sources said a land use policy had been prepared by the government in 2001 the best utilisation of land could be ensured through “land zoning” for agriculture, markets and settlements. But this is not being implemented yet, they added.
According to the sources, private housing companies are sprouting in all big cities, including Dhaka, and destroying fertile agricultural plots of land by occupying them for housing purposes.