Thursday, June 27, 2019 | ePaper

Modernise the railways and make it corruption-free

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BANGLADESH Railway has been showing less importance and interest to recover its grabbed lands though thousands of acres of land are now illegally possessed by a section of influential people and some organisations. It has also no visible plan to use many unused lands across the country too. An initiative was taken about 12 years ago to conduct a survey of all Railway lands and prepare a land use plan along with introducing web-based land information system. But it is yet to be completed. According to newspaper reports, at present out of Railway's 61,860.28 acres of land, 3,841.53 acres are under occupation of different government and private organisations and persons. The highest, around 64 per cent, of the total occupied lands are under Paksey division.
Railway sources said as per existing land price, value of occupied Railway land only in Paksey area is several hundreds of crores of taka. That means, the market price of total grabbed land is thousands of crore taka. It is alleged that with support of political leaders and some dishonest Rail officials, grabbers dare to violate rules to build multi-storied markets, factories and high-rise residential buildings on Railway land and earn money by giving them to others.
Though Railway authorities sometimes launch drives to remove illegal structures and free the land from the grabbers, they are compelled to stop the drives midway under political pressure or mutual understanding. The Railways authority filed cases with courts to free the lands from grabbers and got verdict from lower court in several cases. But in reality, they failed to recover the lands in many areas.
Despite different initiatives taken by the authorities concerned, the Railway is still a corruption-prone sector. From recruiting of officials and employee to regular ticket selling --- corruption is rampant. On the other hand, its service is also not up-to-the mark.
The main duty of the Bangladesh Railways is to retain its lost trust and introduce modern service keeping adjustment with digitalization era. At the same time, it must take step to recover its occupied lands and prepare its master plan for its proper use.

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