Owners get back 16 acres of land in Kalabagan from government after 70 years

Owners of 16 acres of land in the neighbourhood of Kalabagan acquired by the government have received back the ownership of the plots after 70 years, ending a long period of legal tangles.

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury ordered the handover of the land in a meeting on Wednesday.

The owners or their successors have been using the lands for a long time but could not pay tax for, or transfer the lands due to legal complications, the land ministry said in a statement.

“Therefore, they could not use the lands, which are financially valued assets. Now that the lands would be ‘released’ from government acquisition, it will end their long struggle,” the ministry said.

The minister ordered the officials to keep the handover process transparent and ensure that middlemen do not trouble the land owners.

In 1948-49, the government acquired a total of 472.68 acres of land by the Public Works Department (the then C&B) to build houses for government officials.

The land acquisition was finalised through a gazette in 1953 and the plots were transferred. But the Public Works Department never took the ownership of the land.

The previous owners or their successors have been constructing residential and commercial buildings there.

The Supreme Court gave a verdict favouring the owners after the government issued a notice to evict the owners in 1968.

As the lands were still acquired on paper, the owners could not pay tax for, or transfer them.

A total of 14 acres of land have been recorded under individual names, while 2.86 acres have been recorded under the Public Works Department.

In an effort to end the legal complications, the land owners appealed to the prime minister in 2018. The matter was then forwarded to the cabinet, and the land ministry was directed to take legal steps.

A four-member committee was formed to end the crisis following a meeting led by Land Secretary Md Mostafizur Rahman in March 2021.