Land acquisition and development are often interrelated. Organisations, whether public or private, acquire land for infrastructure development and expansion of their enterprises and projects. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the states of the world felt necessities to acquire land for their public purposes and were starting interference and continuing support in the economic activities for common interests of the people. For this purposes, in 1948, “The (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act, 1948 (East Bengal Act XIII of 1948) was passed in the parliament of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. This Act was enacted to provide for special measures for the emergency requisition of property in connection with the administration and development of the country.
Whenever it appears to the Deputy Commissioner that any property in any locality is needed, or is likely to be needed, for any public purpose or in the public interest, he shall cause a notice to be published at convenient places, on or near the property to be acquired is required. In this act, it caused a requisition notice first and where the order of the requisition has been served to the interested persons in respect of a property, the Deputy Commissioner may take possession of the forthwith and may use or deal with the property in such manner as appear to him to be expedient.After that the acquisition process was taken under the provisions mentioned in the section (5) of the said act. Compensation for movable and immovable property was given to the affected persons after making estimation of the land and properties, plants and crops according to market value prevailing in the market. The acquisition of the scheduled properties was gazette notified in a prescribed form after ending all the acquisition process thereafter.
In 1982, an ordinance was made and promulgated by the then Chief Martial Law Administrator to consolidate and amend the law relating to acquisition and requisition of immovable property. This ordinance was called “The Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982 (Ordinance-II of 1982). It was more convenient and easy for the acquisition and requisition of the land and properties. In this act, the proposal of Requiring Body (Public or Private Organization) for acquisition is scrutinized by the concerned Deputy Commissioner’s office and is sent to the Ministry of Land for final approval. After final approval, the notice under-section 3 (preliminary notice for acquisition) is served to the affected persons.
After maintaining all formalities under section 4 (if any objection) and 5 (final approval of the project), the notice under section-6 (ownership related) is served to the affected person for submitting their ownership documents or any objection to the existing title. In the meantime, to determine the amount of compensation to be awarded for any property, Deputy Commissioner’s Office takes value of property, plants, structures, crops or other establishments existing on the land which is proposed to be acquired under section-8 (matters to be considered in determining compensation) of the said act. Then the award for compensation is made and the notice under section-7 is served to the affected persons.
The scheduled property which is acquired is then sent for gazette notification under section 11(1) and 11(2). Lastly, the “The Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act-2017” has been passed in the parliament for land acquisition. This act is more fitting and people oriented, easy, transparent and accountable. It has been done through scrutinising and revising the prior act and ordinance about Land Acquisition and Requisition.
Present Government has taken initiatives for driving digital Bangladesh forward through expansion of digital technology and its uses in day to day activities in every sphere of life. Land management and land acquisition is not exception of it. Dhaka DCs (Deputy Commissioner) office has taken a bold step to digitise its land acquisition process online to make it easier, dynamic, transparent and accountable and to give more hassle free services to the people who are affected in this process. The project which is taken for digitisation of land acquisition is called “Automated Compensation Payment System (ACPS) for land acquisition”.
In this process, an affected person can apply through online for his compensation of affected land and properties from any corner of the world at any time. He can also know the latest condition of his application, latest proceeds and news about his automated payment settlement. The advantages of ACPS are: Case files will be created online, if the land schedule and the documents of ownership are uploaded online by field investigation and accurate joint inventory, the notice under section 4 (preliminary notice for acquisition), 7 (ownership related) and 8 (payment offer) of the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act-2017” will be automatically prepared.It will be helpful and easier to make a compensation award accurately, to identify the real ownership of the affected land and compensation giving to the affected people. Above all, it will be possible to pay compensation through automated online system. SMS (Short Message Service) will go to the applicant’s mobile number and he (the applicant) will know everything about latest condition of his application process by using his mobile tracking number.
Some pragmatic measures have been taken to make this process more transparent, accountable, people oriented and service oriented. These are-installations of CCTV camera in office rooms of all the land acquisition staffs, camera monitors have been installed to monitor the CCTV footage by the superior authorities, installations of digital attendance and front desk, sitting arrangements of the service aspirants, complaints relief register and box (if any complaint arises), etc. L.A. Cheque (Cheque of compensation money) is given in the field not in the office. All these services have been installed in line with the achieving of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-2030, through effective delivery of services. It is an innovative transformation of service in line with the “International Public Service day-2019”. We hope all success of this program in near future.
Md. Muzibur Rahman, Additional Land Acquisition Officer, Dhaka and Freelancer