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Strings and Stitches Group

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Diluvion


Alluvion and Diluvion barring some hilly areas in the southeast and the rtheast, Bangladesh is the world's largest delta formed by three great river systems ganges/padma, brahmaputra/jamuna and meghna. These mighty rivers originating in the himalayas carry millions of tons of mud and sand every year on their journey to the bay of bengal. The bulk of the sand and mud get deposited in their meandering courses raising the river beds and forming chars or accretions along the course of the rivers and at their confluence. Since the torrential monsoon flow is unable to discharge itself through the inflated riverbed, it inundates vast tracts of land on both sides and swallows up the landmass on one side of the bank, and gradually and imperceptibly forms accretions on the other side. Erosion of the bank on one side and formation of char on the other are the recurring acts of the river systems. Such loss of landmass (diluvion) and formation of chars (alluvion) since time immemorial must have led to the growth of a body of usage and custom regulating the rights of ownership of such lands.




Diluvion


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The tenancy law, as contained in sections 17 and 18 of the Bengal Rent Act 1859, recognised the corollary principle that the tenant was liable to enhancement of rent in case of increase of area of his land by alluvion and he is entitled to a reduction of rent in the event of decrease of the area of land by diluvion. Similar provisions were made in section 52 of the bengal tenancy act 1885. By an amendment a new section, 86A, was inserted in the Bengal Tenancy Act providing that the tenant's right to the diluviated land would be deemed to have been surrendered or extinguished if he had obtained a reduction of rent. This provision was again amended in 1938 to provide for automatic abatement of rent in case of diluvion and ensured subsistence of his right to get back the land if it re-formed within 20 years of diluvion, twithstanding the abatement of rent.


In the east bengal state acquisition and tenancy act 1950, a specific provision regarding the law of accretion, which was so long being regulated by Regulation XI of 1825, was made in section 87. The provisions relating to abatement of rent for the diluviated land and subsistence of tenant's right to such land, similar to those of section 86A of the Bengal Tenancy Act, were incorporated in section 86 of the Act of 1950. On 4 August 1972, President's Order No. 135 was promulgated to provide that in case of diluvion the rent of the holding shall be abated and the tenant's right of ownership shall be extinguished and the land on reappearance shall vest in the government, except the land in respect of which the tenant's right to repossession was finally recognised by the court or competent authority before in situ, which was declared to have been founded on universal law and justice, and enjoyed the sanction of positive law from 1825, was abrogated. All char lands, whether re-formation in situ or new accretion, were declared to be khas lands. The position was again changed in 1994.


By the amending Act of XV of 1994 provision was made for abatement of rent in the case of land lost by diluvion and subsistence of the right to land re-formed in situ for 30 years, subject to the ceiling of 60 bighas. The present legal position regarding the right of ownership of the land re-formed in situ, as settled by the amending Act XV of 1994, is that the owner of the land once diluviated will get the land re-formed in situ if it reappears within 30 years of diluvion and land re-formed in situ after that period will be the property of the government. To facilitate identification of the owner, a certificate of abatement of rent from the revenue authority will be necessary.


A concession has been made in favour of persons whose right to accretion was finally recognised by a court or competent authority in respect of chars that appeared before the date of commencement of President's Order No. 72 of 1972. The present legal position is that all chars other than those re-formed in situ within 30 years of diluvion are the property of the state, which the government may settle in accordance with the rules. The act of forcibly taking and keeping control of accreted land is popularly kwn as char dakhal. An owner of diluviated land has the unfettered right to repossess the land re-formed in situ without any sanction from the government machinery. Similarly, the riparian owner has the right to occupy the new char, which slowly forms contiguous to his land. His only liability is to pay rent or taxes. This indefeasible property right is said to have been 'founded on universal law and justice' and codified in the Regulation of 1825. This encourages zamindars and other proprietors to grab by force any new char whenever and wherever it appears claiming the same as diluviated land re-formed in situ or contiguous accretion as the situation demands. The rival claimants are t slow in appearing with similar claims. The new chars are fertile lands and would yield handsome salami and new rents. The result invariably is the use of violence leading to riot and killings over the possession of char lands.


After abolition of the zamindari system, the situation was expected to improve. But this expectation was belied by actual events. Although zamindars were gone, the big land holders and persons who commanded money and political power stepped into the shoes of the erstwhile zamindars and continued to grab the char land as before. The most serious socio-ecomic impact of the recurring acts of diluvion is the instant loss of land and home suffered by thousands of peasant families every year.


Suddenly, they find their homesteads, lands and means of earnings gone. Persons affected by land acquisition get compensation and sometimes a scheme of rehabilitation is included within a land acquisition project. But in the case of land and home by diluvion, the affected persons get thing. They are forced to take shelter on the roadside land, embankments, and vacant spaces in the towns and cities forming bustees (slums), which create environmental hazards and other related problems. 041b061a72


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