A total of 1,60,566 individuals and organisations have grabbed 2.57 lakh acres of forest land across the country.
Of the total forest land, 1.38 lakh acres are reserved forest area -- grabbed by 88,215 persons and organisations.
Forest Department submitted the statistics containing names of grabbers of forest land all over the country today at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.
According to the department, a total of 1.60 lakh acres of forest land were handed over to different public and private organisations including Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation (BFIDC).
Of the 1.60 lakh acre forest land, 43,095 acres were handed over to BFIDC and 23,221 acres to different government and non-government organisations.
Besides, 93, 923 acres of forest land were allocated to Army, Air Force, Navy, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh, according to the documents submitted to the parliamentary standing committee.
Emerging from the meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, an Awami League MP and chief of the parliamentary watchdog, told reporters that the committee has asked the ministry to make public the names of grabbers through its website so that people can know their identity and to make the process of preparing the grabbers' list transparent.
"This was for the first time in the country's history that we got a complete and detailed list of grabbers of forest land as per the division -- a huge document containing 5,000 pages," Saber Hossain Chowdhury told The Daily Star.
After preparing the list of grabbers, the parliamentary body has asked the ministry to take immediate measures to recover the grabbed forest land soon.
Main photo: Tin-roofed mud houses amid the greenery of Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary in Cox’s Bazar. Jafar Alam, a local lawmaker and also a member of the parliamentary standing committee on environment and forest, has recently proposed that 600 acres of this reserve forest be turned into khas land so that it can be leased out to the locals. The photo was taken recently. Photo: Mostafa Yousuf