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By giving homes to homeless BD reaches new milestone

Published : Wednesday, 23 June, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 625

By giving homes to homeless BD reaches new milestone

By giving homes to homeless BD reaches new milestone

Emerging Bangladesh is going to reach another milestone in the next few years when each and every family in the country will own a home to live in. The families will also be the owner of the land on which the house is built. Out of 885,622 homeless families listed primarily by the relevant government authorities, a total of 373,562 families have so far become owners of their respective homes, built under a government housing programme for the homeless undertaken in 1997.

However, giving house to each and every family will remain a challenge for the governments in the days ahead as nearly 10,000 families become homeless every year on average due to river erosions, floods and cyclones. However, the housing programme known as Ashrayon Project, is a kind of scheme which will continue to arrange permanent shelters for the homeless.

If the economic conditions of the country continue to improve despite various challenges including the raging deadly pandemic, it is expected that the project will be accelerated and more homeless people will have their own homes given by the government.  Under the programme, the families once homeless, each received a tin-shed concrete house, adequate to accommodate a small family. The homes are connected with electricity and gas supply. If the Ashrayon Project continues successfully, Bangladesh will hopefully be among the world's few countries where every family lives in its own house.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has empowered 53,340 more landless and homeless families, giving a house to each family, on June 20 last in the second phase of Ashrayan-2 Project taken on the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Ashrayan-2 Project, is a government development project under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) tasked with building homes for homeless and displaced people.

PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the distribution of the tin-shed concrete houses virtually on June 22 last, under her government's campaign 'no one will remain homeless in Bangladesh.' House along with two-decimal land has been given free of cost to the homeless and landless people. Husband and wife of each family have been given joint ownership of the house and land, according to the scheme.

Through the scheme, each family received assets worth Tk. 2.6 lakh, including two-decimal land worth Tk50,000. The construction cost of every house is nearly Tk 2 lakh, while the cost of utility connectivity (electricity, gas and eater) is some Tk10, 000. The total cost for building 53,340 houses was at around Tk1,067 crore, excluding the costs for land and utility. In addition, the families were also given some cash to furnish their houses. Homeless families in flatlands received Tk5,000 and families in wetland (haor) Tk7,000 each. The families will gradually be trained to enable themselves for a better livelihood, per the government plan.

Earlier, PM Sheikh Hasina handed over 69,904 houses to the homeless and landless families on January 23 under the first phase of the project on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation. The local authority constructed the houses following the PM's directive, at the cost of Tk1,168crore. Each of the houses, built on two decimals of land having two rooms, one balcony, and one toilet besides having a connection of electricity and water, cost Tk1.75 lakh

With these new 53,340 houses, a total of 123,244 houses have been given to as much families across the country in the last six months. Since the introduction of the Ashrayan Project in 1997 and executed by the PMO, a total of 373,562 landless and homeless families now own a house and the land on which the house stands, as said in opening paragraph of this write up.

Besides, 100,000 more houses will be given to the people by December next as part of the government's scheme to rehabilitate the country's homeless people. Of the houses handed over on Sunday last 12,436 houses were given in Rangpur Division, 10,547 in Chattogram, 7,630 in Dhaka, 7,172 in Rajshahi, 37,153 in Barishal, 911 in Khulna, 2512 in Mymensingh and 1979 in Sylhet Division.

The Ashrayan project has been a blessing for the homeless people, who have been homeless for many years and survived taking shelter to neighbours' houses. Now they are getting houses of their own - for the first time in their lives. What could be a greater gift in the centenary of Bangabandhu'sbirth.

Many of the recipients of the houses said they still could not believe that they have such a nice house gifted by the government. They said they have been accustomed to live under the open sky in rain and shine, in floods and storms, in summer and winter. To get a readymade house is nothing but a miracle under the government of PM Sheikh Hasina.

Under the leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina, Ashrayan Project was first introduced in 1997, in her very first term in power.A small pilot project gradually turned into a large scale priority project of the government in order to provide shelter to the homeless and landless people and gradually make them self dependent to contribute in national economy. The project is also aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal and Vision 2021 in terms of 'Poverty Alleviation'. Through this project, Bangladeshhas demonstrated its leadership in sheltering families displaced by climate related calamities too.

In 1997, at the aftermath of a tornado in coastal areas, 'Ashrayan Project-1' was planned for the distressed people entirely funded by the government. The project duration was from 1997 to 2010 and implemented successfully. From 1997 to 2010 Bangladesh Army and Navy built 8,696 and 1,707 barracks, each comprising 5 to 10 units under 'Ashrayan Project-1 and 10,403 homeless families were accommodated.  The project continued even after the end of fist term of PM Sheikh Hasina in 2001.

The project was reinvigorated when Sheikh Hasina returned to power in January 2009, after landslide victory in the election held under an army-backed interim government in December 2008. PM Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League (AL) won the national polls without any electoral resistance in 2014 and also in 2019 as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies boycotted the polls in pursuit of a wrong political strategy.

Ashrayan Project duration is from July, 2010 to June, 2022. In this project, Bangladesh Navy was made responsible to implement Ashrayan in coastal areas. Bangladesh Army was entrusted for rest of the areas of Bangladesh. With the passage of time design and construction materials of the Asrayan Project changed significantly. With a humble beginning of the corrugated tin shed house, now Government is providing brick constructed houses and even multi-storey buildings. Under the project 10,168 barracks each containing 5 to 10 units are being built and so far more than 90 percent of the project has been completed.

"It is an inclusive development model which has never been implemented by anyone or any country earlier in the world. The initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has now become a social campaign," Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus told newsmen in Dhaka last week.

Today on the 72nd birth anniversary of AL, the party has added another feather in its cap giving homes to thousands of homeless people, political observers say.

The writer is business editor,
The Daily Observer

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