There has been no headway at all in the resolution of land related issues in three Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) districts, leaving the fate of more than 22,000 petitions on land disputes hanging in the balance.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission is the governmental organisation tasked with settling the issues. However, the commission's chairman, Justice Anwar-ul Haque, said that they are in a sort of limbo because the government is yet to outline the rules of business for the commission.
"We have sent recommendations to the government, but the government is yet to draft the rules of business," Justice Anwar-ul Haque told journalists. The chairman appeared before the press after a meeting at Rangamati circuit house on Thursday.
Justice Haque said: "The commission is yet to recruit manpower and set up offices in three districts. These issues are tied up in red tape at the Ministry of Land."
The commission was formed in 1999 following the CHT peace accord in 1997. The government drafted the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act in 2001, and some provisions of the Act were amended in October 2016.
"People with land disputes can file complaints with the commission. So far the commission has 22,090 complaints, and these will be settled gradually once the rules of business are approved," said Justice Haque.
Justice Anwar-ul Haque was appointed as the chairman of the commission in 2016, and later got reappointment after his tenure expired. Although the government has appointed several chairmen in the past, discontent among commission members over the post restricted any progress in the work of the commission.
"Now we have a very good understanding amongst ourselves," Barrister Debasish Roy, a commission member and also the Chakma Circle Chief, said. Bomang Circle Chief U Cha Prue Chowdhury said the commission was doing well, and hopefully its work will be visible in the next five to six months.