Over 4,400 poor families who lost their homes to the climate induced disasters like cyclone, river erosion and landslides will get homes under the Ashrayan Project-2, government officials have said.
Under the project, a total of 139 multi-storied buildings and a tower after the name of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be constructed in Cox's Bazar by 2019 at an estimated cost of Tk800 crore to rehabilitate the families, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman told BSS.
Ashrayan Project, one of the 10 priority projects of the prime minister, was designed to provide the distressed people with homes and other supports to be self-reliant.
The main objective of the project is to make the homeless, landless and shelterless poor people capable of running their own income-generating initiatives having interest-free loan and training on various trades to make them economically independent.
The activities of the project will be accelerated in future to alleviate poverty for achieving the Vision-2021 of the present government and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, Nojibur said.
Ashrayan-2 Project Director Abul Kalam Shamsuddin said the government is developing 253.35 acres of land beside Cox's Bazar Airport to construct the multi-storied buildings and "Sheikh Hasina Tower.”
As part of the project, he said, the government will also develop a modern tourist zone and a distinctive dry fish market in the area.
He said Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) will construct a bridge over the Bakkhali River while Water Development Board (WDB) will construct an embankment to protect the project area from river erosion.
For the project, digital survey on 253.35 acres of lands and the physical development of 44 acres of lands have already been done. Development of 212 acres of land by the WDB is also underway, he added.
Dr Atiq Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), said Bangladesh is a pioneer in taking many climate initiatives nationally and globally, including National Adaption Programme of Action (NAPA) and Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP).
"Bangladesh has demonstrated its leadership in sheltering families displaced by climate related calamities," he observed.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner M Ali Hossain said works are on to implement the Ashrayan Project-2 in the district. Most of the families who lost their homes to the devastating cyclone in 1991 and were now living in the slums near Cox's Bazar Airport will get shelter in the new project.
Apart from getting shelter, the families will have the opportunity to pursue their own business in the dry fish market, he said.
M Zahedul Islam Farhad, a dry fish producer of the district, said the government's initiative will play a vital role in promoting further the traditional dry fish business.
The Ashrayan Project was launched by the Awami League government in 1997 to rehabilitate the cyclone affected people in Cox's Bazar and its adjoining districts. The Ashrayan Project-2 of Tk4,840.28 crore was designed in 2010 for providing shelter to around 250,000 homeless families by 2019.
Under this project, a total of 175,483 families have been rehabilitated so far across the country.
Under the program, the taskforce committee at the upazila level identifies "Khas land" of a particular area and later sends a proposal to the authorities concerned for construction of cluster/barrack houses. Bangladesh Armed Forces Division builds these houses.
Freedom fighters, widows and divorcee women are given priority in getting homes under the project.