Anti-Corruption Commission has identified seven private resorts and picnic spots having structures built occupying government lands in Gazipur in collusion with a section of government officials.
The spots are Shilpi Kunja Picnic Spot, Shohag Palli Resort Zone, Rangamati Water Front, Aranyak Bungalow Bari, ACI Bungalow Bari, Mamataj Picnic Spot and Nuhash Polli.
A three-member ACC team, led by its director Sayed Iqbal Hossain, found that Shilpi Kunja Picnic Spot occupied 0.20 acres land of the forest department while Shohag Palli Resort Zone occupied 2.40 acres, Rangamati Water Front grabbed one acre, Aranyak Bungalow Bari grabbed 0.22 acres, ACI Bungalow Bari grabbed 0.30 acres, Mamataj Picnic Spot occupied 0.41 acre and Nuhash Polli grabbed 0.60 acres of land of the department.
The ACI Bungalow Bari, however, left their position on the government land two month ago after the ACC had issued a notice to them, said ACC officials.
They said that the private resorts and picnic spots had been using the land since early 90s but land officials remained lax in recovering the lands.
The land officials would be notified in this regard for explaining why they did not take necessary initiatives during so long a time to retrieve the government land, the ACC officials said.
They said that ACC already noticed authorities of the private resorts and picnic spots except Nuhash Polli, asking them to provide necessary documents in this link.
They said that a notice would also be issued to Nuhash Polli soon.
Meher Afroz Shaon, one of the owners of Nuhash Polli, told New Age that she became aware of the matter early this year following a land ministry notice.
Later, she talked to the ministry officials to resolve the issue as she did not know that Nuhash Polli had some government lands inside its areas, she said.
Shaon said she later came to know that a portion of government land formed a part of a pond inside Nuhash Polli while another portion was a part of a mango garden.
She said that she had no objection to leaving the land used in the pond but she would like to take care of the other portion used in mango garden in the front side of Nuhash Polli.
Shaon, wife of the late popular writer Humayun Ahmed, said that she would like to look after the part of land without ownership as the mango garden was made by Humayun Ahmed.
She said that the land ministry officials assured her of an acceptable solution for it.
Shohag Palli Resort Zone general manager Shahid Ahmed said that he received a notice and they were trying to solve the issue in a legal way.
Rangamati Water Front assistant general manager Abdur Rahim said that they were working to respond to the ACC notice.
Shilpi Kunjo Picnic Spot owner Khorshed Alam Babul said that he already submitted necessary documents to the ACC.
Khorshed, also a former a player of Bangladesh national football team, said that he would leave the government land if it was proved in the ACC investigation that they had government land in their possession.
In September 2017, ACC started an inquiry to find out the sources of investment and other irregularities of the private resorts and picnic spots owners in Dhaka and adjacent districts such as Gazipur, Mymensingh, Tangail, Manikganj, Narsingdi and Narayanganj.
ACC collected data from forest department and local administrations for scrutinising the land ownership of the resorts.
The ACC team completed scrutinising documents of Gazipur and Narayanganj and found no such grabbing incidents in Narayanganj, the ACC officials said.
About the illegal possession of forest land, Dhaka division forest officer Jahir Uddin Akan said that they were continuing drives to free the government land from grabbers.
He said that they would take necessary steps following the ACC probe report.
Deputy chief conservator of forest Zahir Uddin Ahmed said that they would take departmental action against its officials involved, if any.
Reportedly, a good number of businesspeople, politicians, former bureaucrats and showbiz stars built resorts, picnic spots, rest houses and party centres on the outskirts of Dhaka and adjacent districts grabbing government lands.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country