A recent study on property disputes in Bangladesh has estimated that one in every five households in the country suffer from land disputes and one in every four household with land disputes had bribed arbitrators.
The study – Socio-Economic Costs of Property Disputes: An Empirical Examination from Bangladesh – conducted by BRAC Human Rights and Legal Services and Policy Research Institute (PRI) also pointed out that the estimates indicate that roughly four million households in the country might be facing land disputes at present.
“The descriptive evidence also casts Dhaka division as the most land conflict prone region of the country, closely followed by Sylhet. The findings are indicative of land conflict being a serious issue in Bangladesh, and a considerable share of the population is suffering from this phenomenon,” Dr Ashikur Rahman, a senior economist for PRI, told a seminar at BRAC Centre in the capital yesterday.
The findings also estimated that approximately 6.6% of all households fear a future conflict regarding land properties and indicated that are around two million land-related litigations have landed in the formal judiciary, summing up to 70% of all litigations in the judiciary.
“A total of 1,050 households were surveyed during the study. Subsequently, 25 random households with land ownership were selected from each mouza of selected two districts from each of seven divisions in the country,” he added.
The study pinpoints that in almost half of the samples, nearly 45.2% were maintained through unregistered documents, especially in cases of inherited land parcels. It also suggested that households with registered land percels experience lower pending disputes or fear of future disputes.
This study also reveals that 18.3% households with pending or resolve land dispute on average paid Tk22,270 as bribe to police, making one in five households with land conflicts exposed to illegal activities.
The findings observes that 7.5% households with past or present land conflicts have experienced physical assaults on themselves or their household members. Additionally, approximately 19% of them fear physical violence in future
At the same time, the study also suggested that matriarchal households were prone to more violence and repression during land conflicts while legal consultancy consumed 56% of the total cost that a household has to bear during a land dispute.
“Social changes in different periods, mostly in 1947 and 1971, has been the major reason for the land conflict and problems. Due to these social changes, it was not possible to make land records and registrations of lands,” said Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman while addressing the seminar as chief guest.
He also suggested that now the government should take strict steps to control land recording and registration.
Meanwhile, Land Ministry Senior Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said: “We have taken step to introduce a digitised system for mutation and registration of land. The system will be completed in four and half years. All the process will also be controlled with Global Satellite System (GSS).”
“We hope that after the introduction of the digitised system, the land conflict will be solved,” he added.
Chaired by BRAC Vice Chairperson Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, the seminar was also addressed by Directorate of Land Record and Survey Director General Ahsan H Mansur, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, among others.