TIB: Land sector heavily corrupt


The Bangladesh chapter of international corruption watchdog Transparency International has detected massive corruption at every stage of land management by the administration.

A recent study by the organisation reveals that livelihood of the ordinary people, social welfare and safety are interrupted due to lack of political will and coordination among the related agencies, long backlog of pending cases, shortage of budget and manpower, and lack of accountability.

Land officials and staff at the offices take bribes ranging from Tk100-Tk20 lakh for survey and ledger transfer, mutation of name, registration, land development tax, collecting documents, provision of agro-land management, market management and leasing system, and land-related cases.

The qualitative research titled “Land Management and Services: Challenges of Good Governance and Solutions” was conducted by Waheed Alam, Nihar Ranjan Roy and Nazmul Huda Mina of TIB’s research and policy wing between October 2014 and July this year. The research team, however, did not cover the three hilly districts and land of the indigenous communities in the plains.

Frustrated with the current status, the land minister and the state minister recently vowed to uproot corruption from the land offices. The government has also instructed the offices of the deputy commissioners across the country to check corruption.

The TIB study shows that the land surveyors usually take bribes forcibly at the time of survey. Moreover, in absence of the land owner, the surveyors tend to label the land as government land while political figures and influential people interrupt survey process in some cases.

The officials concerned prepare documents of Khas (government) land, vested property, fallow land and court of wards in favour of the influential persons in exchange for bribes, according to the findings.

Service seekers face harassment at the time of mutation process. The Tehsil offices determine the package of mutation process for money. Land registration process is also corrupt, the study says.

Excessive taxes are collected from the land owners by violating guidelines while the recording officials take extra fees from them.

Mouza map and record of rights are given on bribe by the settlement offices. In some cases, the records are destroyed by the land grabbers with the help of upazila land offices, the study finds.

TIB says that the government lands meant for agriculture are allotted not for the needy people but the local dominants. Political leaders, union parishad chairmen and members influence the allotment system largely.

During the study, the TIB officials also found corruption and irregularities in local market management.

There are 1.8m land-related cases pending with the county’s different courts. Many lawyers are not skilled enough to deal with the cases, the study says.

In every stage of the land cases, court officials concerned take bribes from both the complainants and the defendants. Most of the lawyers secure adjournment in the cases in exchange for bribes, causing harassment to the clients.

The TIB has placed 12-point recommendations to change the scenario that include building a vibrant department to steer the administration and management structure of the Land Ministry, long-term working plan for digitalisation of the land sector and increasing budget.

At the press conference, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said that land management system was more corrupt than any other sector.

“There are many difficulties in this sector. Those involved in corruption and irregularities are trying to maintain the present scenario in a greater extent. Scopes for fraudulent activities are created systematically under the influence of political power,” he added.

Source: Dhaka Tribune