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News : Land Hotline a Ray of Hope Amid Hassles in Service


Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sept 30, 2022 -- Kallyan Tarapder had to pay more than Tk12,000 for the mutation of a flat in 2019. The process took around three months to complete.

But now, just two months ago, the man from Jashore had a completely different experience.

"This time I obtained a mutation service by dialling the land service helpline number 16122, and it cost me Tk1,100 only! There was no harassment either," Kallyan told The Business Standard.

The launching of the National Land Service call centre on 5 January this year has made life a lot easier for many like Kallyan Tarapder as various services can now be received sitting at home – at any time. The call centre service is known as "Citizen Land Service 24/7".

Around 3.5 lakh people have availed these services by calling the hotline and by commenting or messaging on the Facebook page in the last eight months, according to data obtained from Digicon Technologies, a private firm that is currently operating the hotline service.

Digicon Technologies is managing hotline service with around 50 trained staff.

Romel Mahtab, assistant general manager (service quality and training) of Digicon Technologies, said, "Our people who are managing the hotline service are trained in all land-related issues. Our own trainers and trainers from the land ministry train them regularly."

Popular services of Citizen Land Service 24/7 to landowners include receiving records of rights (ROR/Khatiyan/Porcha) and land maps by post at home, paying ROR and mutation fees and land development tax from anywhere, mutation application, queries on land laws and regulations and receiving miscellaneous complaints, etc.

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Jasmin Akhter from Dimla in Nilphamari, who took land development tax service by making a call to the hotline, told TBS, "I dialled the hotline number about a month ago, seeking help in creating an online profile for my father to pay land tax. The call centre staff made the profile in less than five minutes. Now we are paying land tax online using mobile financial services.

"Earlier, we had to go to the land office to pay land tax and every time we were forced to pay bribes to officials there. Now there is no such suffering."

People concerned said most people in the country still do not know about this hotline service, which is why they are still undergoing hassles in availing land-related services. In this situation, they have stressed conducting promotional campaigns to make people aware of the hotline service.

According to a survey report published by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on 31 August, 71% of service seekers were victims of corruption while taking services in public and private institutions in the country in 2021.

In the survey titled "Corruption in the Service Sectors, National Household Survey 2021", 46.3% of respondents said they were "victims of corruption" while taking land services.

If the uptake of services through the hotline and online increases, corruption by unscrupulous government officials will come down to a large extent, said stakeholders.

According to the land ministry, the application process, fee payments, and collection of necessary documents such as DCR (duplicate carbon receipt) and ROR (record of rights) in the mutation system after the approval of the mutation application are now fully digital. Besides, no fee will be received manually or in cash in the e-mutation system from 1 October 2022, the ministry added.

Syed Md Abdullah Al Nahian, public relations officer of the land ministry, told TBS, "We will expand the scope of this service within the next one or two months. The entire operation of the hotline service will then be conducted from Bhumi Bhavan."

The ministry is also working to publicise the service, he said, adding, "We want everyone to obtain land services online."

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury recently said his ministry was working on the drafting of the "Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act" from the idea "who has the documents owns the land".

"No matter how many years one forcibly occupies a piece of land, the ownership of an illegal occupant without proper documents will never be recognized under this Act," he maintained.

The minister expressed his hope that the land grabbing-related harassment of people will be significantly reduced once the law is enacted.

He said the draft law would be sent to the cabinet division for vetting and it will then be sent to parliament for enactment.

On 10 October 2019, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury inaugurated the "Land Service Hotline 16122" on a small scale. The hotline handled about 1 lakh calls until December 2021.

Land ministry directives to implement e-mutation in 28 days

The land ministry on 19 September this year sent a letter to the divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners asking them to send a report within 15 working days after expeditious disposal of excessive e-mutation cases that are pending over 28 days.

Referencing open data related to e-mutation on the land service platform, the ministry has asked for regular monitoring of the average disposal time of e-mutation.

In addition, ways to resolve the cases that are showing "false negative" pending/unsettled due to the earlier system were also mentioned in the letter, according to a statement.

The ministry also asked for stating all other reasons for taking an excessive amount of time spent in the settlement of e-mutation as a whole.

According to the data reviewed by the e-Mutation Monitoring Dashboard of the Ministry of Land, the average time taken to dispose of e-mutation cases in all divisions of the country was higher in August, while the highest average time of 46 days was taken in Chattogram Division and the lowest average time of 37 days was taken in Dhaka Division.

Among the districts that took the longest time to settle e-mutation, the average time taken was 72 days in Gazipur and the lowest was 52 days in Cox's Bazar, Khulna, Gaibandha and Dinajpur.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

Today's Tip of the Day - Disability Laws

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Published: Monday, October 3, 2022

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