Speakers at a discussion in the capital on Saturday underscored the need for creating mass awareness to save land and rivers from the grabbers as well as protect arable land, especially those of aboriginals from unplanned urbanization, reports BSS.
They were speaking at the consultation meeting titled ‘Land Grabbing: Current Social Movement for Resistance” organized by INCIDIN Bangladesh at its office at Mohammadpur. The programme was supported by South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE). A. K. M. Mustaque Ali, Executive Director, INCIDIN Bangladesh, spoke as the key discussant.
Among others, Mihir Biswas, founding Member Secretary, Buriganga Bachao Andolon and Joint General Secretary, BAPA, Rajkumar Shao, Executive Director, Bangladesh Adibashi Forum and Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, Lucky Akter, Organizing Secretary, Bangladesh Krishok Samitee, and Shahnaj Sumi, Deputy Director, SAAPE, spoke at the discussion.
Mihir Biswas said there were 24,000 kilometers of rivers in 1972, which now have been reduced to below 5,000 kilometers. Besides, there is severe pollution of rivers due to negligence of various stakeholders, he said.
The BAPA joint general secretary also said an effective research is needed to find actual picture of the condition of rivers.
“We must change our mindset. We need to find ways to protect rivers … we can adopt zone-based plans for developing rivers,” he said.
Rajkumar Shao said aboriginals do not grab but create arable land for farming. They prepare land for their livelihood, he added.
“Vested business groups are making aboriginals landless by grabbing their lands. They are depriving aboriginals through various means like terming them with various names,” he said adding: “How we should be named cannot be determined by any group. There are 30 lakh aboriginals in Bangladesh at present.”
If the government is sincere about the rights of aboriginals, then the trend of grabbing lands of aboriginals could be checked. Aboriginals should not be identified with religion, as multi-religious people are aboriginals.
Lucky Akter said rivers and cannels around Dhaka are filled up illegally and people in those areas are forced to sell or leave their land by a vested group of house building developers.
Shahnaj Sumi said a movement is being built up in the countries in South Asian region to resolve problems that ethnic minority people suffer.