BR real estate dept officials involved
G Mostafa: A powerful syndicate established centering the Bangladesh Railway has been plundering crores of taka for long by grabbing its lands and constructing illegal installations on it. As a result, the government is being deprived of large amount revenue earning.G Mostafa: A powerful syndicate established centering the Bangladesh Railway has been plundering crores of taka for long by grabbing its lands and constructing illegal installations on it. As a result, the government is being deprived of large amount revenue earning.Meanwhile, half of the railway lands have been occupied by the influential quarters and various installations have been established on it. Hats and Baza’ars have been set up illegally on different places after grabbing the railway lands. Not only that, connection of gas and energy was given to those installations causing losses of huge amount of the government revenue. There are allegations that some station masters, officials and employees of the real estate department of the railways are directly and indirectly involved in these corruption and irregularities.Corruption is not just in the shopping and repairing process of the railway. Half of the Bangladesh Railway lands are at dire state.A strong cycle is controlling all over the activities including transfer and posting of officers in this government agency.Some railway officials, businessmen, politically influential people and even brokers are also members of this syndicate.The amount of land owned by the railways across the country is about 62,000 acres. Of these, 31,311 acres are being used by the railways. Besides, 695 acres were given as lease for fisheries, 30 acres for nurseries, 12 acres for CNG filling stations, 45 acres for educational institutions and 210 acres for the government-semi-government and autonomous institutions. Some 909 acres of land has been leased to commercial establishments. The rest of the lands are being used illegally by the grabbers. Slum, market, (See Page-7)
(From Page-8)car garage and several other installations are seen at different places of the railway lands, which were established after occupation. There are allegations that local influential people starting from some officials of the railways are also behind these occupations, while police regularly collect toll from these establishments.Meanwhile, many of those who are enjoying railway land with approval (lease) are not abiding by the terms and conditions. Although, there is a rule to build any installation around 25 feet away from the railway line, the directive is not being complied. Grabbers are violating the rules and regulations and constructing multistoried buildings.The Ministry of Railways however, is going to start work at the field level on the basis of some such allegations, sources added.According to the engineering rules of Bangladesh Railway, there must be blank space on both sides of the railway. A minimum of 14.3 feet and a maximum of 30 feet should be left as a safe distance. There is no opportunity to build any of such installations. There is a law to demolish the installation without notice. Besides, Railways has Divisional Estate Officer, Assistant Estate Officer, Circle Officer, Kanungo to recover the occupied land. The engineering department is engaged in the maintenance of the railway. Even then the land is constantly being evicted. This has raised many questions in the minds of the people about the sincerity of the railway officials. The Ministry of Railways has also given instructions many times to carry eviction campaigns against illegal occupants. But, civil society members term it as drama or eye wash.Concerned authorities claimed that, they are facing trouble due to lack of manpower, shortage of necessary funds for conducting eviction drives. As a result, instability is prevailing here.During a spot visit, this correspondent found that, 11 acres railway land out of 58 acres around Tejgaon railway station in the capital have become occupied by the illegal grabbers. Truck stands, slums, multi-storey residential buildings, club offices and several stalls have been set up on these lands. There are also mosques, schools, Madrasa and temples. The syndicate realizes at least Tk 75 lakh per month from the illegally occupied land. Besides, Tk 1.83 lakh is collected as extortion from the installations of railway lands controlled by the Tejgaon railway station. Most of the land on the east side of the station has been occupied by the truck owners and workers. There is around five acres of land in the Tejgaon station area. Around Tk 20 lakh is collected from here.After that, five or six slums have been established here after occupying the land. These slums are controlled by some railway officials and activists of the ruling party. The controllers realize around Tk 9 lakh per month as rent from these slums. Besides, huge amount of toll is realized from club and slum established on the railway lands.Truck stand and shop have been set up occupying about five acres and 10 percent of the land under Tejgaon railway station. Three organizations of the owners and workers operate this illegal terminal. About 1,200 big and small sized trucks can be parked at the stand. If someone keeps a truck there for a day, he is compelled to pay Tk 140 as extortion. As such, if there is an average of 700 trucks per day, the monthly toll is Tk 29.10. There are also lakhs of repair shops and market shops rented around the truck stand. It is learned that when the city survey was conducted 20 years ago, the land was recorded by different people in their own names. Rail has not made any appeal to amend the record. However, a case has been pending since 2015 regarding land ownership. The High Court has not been able to evict the railway occupiers as it has issued status quo on it. The Railway Ministry sources said, valuable railway lands in Chittagong, Sirajganj, Bogura, Rajshahi and other places of the country are being occupied by influential people every day. Some unscrupulous railway officials have become multimillionaires by this way. Recently, the Passenger Rights Protection Council, an organization representing the general public, has filed a complaint to the Divisional Real Estate Officer of Bangladesh Railway East. According to the complaint, 4,396 acres of land out of 16,972 acres in Chittagong, Feni, Noakhali, Chandpur, Comilla and Brahmanbaria Gangasagar areas under the Eastern Railway have been occupied. Several installations have been constructed on those lands without any lease. Some of the railway station masters, officials and employees of the real estate department are involved in these works. The organization claims that no action has been taken against them even though several news items have been published in the country’s media at different times. The Council for the Protection of Passenger Rights says that stone-throwing, snatching and theft are taking place at different times from these installations along the railway line. As there are various illegal installations along the railway line, criminals can easily get off the train and hide in these installations. Not only ordinary passengers, but also SI Salauddin of Chittagong Railway Police Station was seriously injured during his duty in 2017 while throwing stones at a moving train from these illegal installations. Even then the railway authorities remained silent on the removal of these illegal installations. General Secretary of the organization Samsuddin Chowdhury said, the present government is working relentlessly to provide safe and uninterrupted service to the passengers on the railways. All the achievements of the government are being tarnished due to some corrupt officials. Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said, the eviction drive would be carried out on the basis of proper planning. Due to the manpower crisis, it is not possible to recover the railway space. However, the railway site will be rescued by increasing the manpower. Moreover, we have a comprehensive plan for Tejgaon station. It is on the way to implementation.