• Saturday, Dec 10, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Thousands become homeowners overnight

  • Published at 03:31 pm January 23rd, 2021
Till now, a total of 69,904 houses have been allotted to homeless and landless families under the supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A number of Bangladeshis who did not have any roof over their heads are now homeowners thanks to the Ashrayan 2 project

As a part of the house and rehabilitation program in Mujib Borsho, as many as 900,000 homeless people in the country are to be provided with houses.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the process by providing a total of 69,904 houses to homeless and landless families under the Ashrayan 2 project.

The remaining homeless population of the country is expected to be housed by the end of this year, and if not, by the end of this government’s term, says the Prime Minister’s Office.

Just two years ago, before the 11th general election, at every election campaign rally, the Prime Minister reiterated her pledge that if she could form a government for a third consecutive term, she would have houses made for all homeless people across the country.

While distributing the houses on Saturday via video conference, the premier said: “Within the Mujib Year and the 50th anniversary of our independence, no one will remain homeless in Bangladesh. My government will make sure of it.”

Also Read - PM: Not a single person will remain homeless

According to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the second batch of housing projects for 100,000 families will be completed within the next few months, and then gradually the government will implement the rest of the work within this term of the government.

"From 1997 to 2020, during these 23 years, the government made 3,20,000 houses for homeless people. And we implemented the plan of providing almost 70,000 homes within two years of the election, and amid a pandemic. More progress is underway," Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary of the PMO, told Dhaka Tribune on Saturday.

He said: "Based on the prime minister’s instructions, we implemented the project with the help of the field administration, which made this possible. No tender has been issued for this work. We allotted the money directly to the UNO. The authorities there arranged for the land and built the houses for homeless people within this very short time."

Responding to a question, he said: "We are working to implement the housing project for 900,000 people within this year. If we cannot complete this project by this time, at least we want to reach the finish line during this term."

Recipients of homes under government’s Ashrayan-2 housing project gather at the allotment program in Syedpur on Saturday, January 23, 2021 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

"This project is being operated from the Prime Minister's Office under the supervision of the premier herself. Every secretary and director of the PMO is assigned for each and every district of the country. They are communicating directly with the district and upazila level government officials," according to the project director of Ashrayan-2, Md Mahbub Hossain.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune on Saturday, Mahbub Hossain expressed the hope that the project would be completed by December this year.

He said: “It is possible because according to our list, we have 885,622 homeless people in the country. Among them, 293,361 are both homeless and landless, while 592,261 are homeless but have land.

“So after implementing the first phase for the homeless and landless people, we will implement the next phase for only the homeless people – who have their own land. And that will not take much time to complete."

What makes this project famous?

Dr Ahmad Kaikaus said: "The Soviet Union had once started to give out community apartments to homeless people. But we are not giving apartments, we are giving houses, and the ownership of the land at the same time. It means today [on Saturday] almost 70,000 people became rich overnight."

"Within one or two years, in the index of Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], our poverty rate will decrease by 10%," he added.

The PMO principal secretary said: "With this project, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set an example before the world --- that if you truly want something, with some courage you can implement it. This housing project is a new dimension to public welfare around the world, as it is the largest housing project in the world so far."

People who are working on this project are saying that it is not only a project that includes providing houses to homeless, but also a project which will boost the country's economy and reduce its poverty line. At the same time, a new socio-economic structure will be built in the country through this project.

What are beneficiaries saying?

During the video conference, a recipient, Parveen, of Kathaltala village in Dumuria upazila of Khulna, thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the house.

In a tearful voice, she said: "Prime Minister, you have given us a house. May Allah keep you alive and give you a long life. I pray a lot for you.”

Replying to Parveen, Hasina said: “Please don’t cry. Today, as prime minister, I want to fulfill my father's dream, and I want to work for the people of the country. We will make arrangements so that not a single person of the country remains homeless."

Later, the prime minister spoke to the people who got houses in Kamarpur village of Syedpur upazila in Nilphamari district.

A woman was sitting in her new house, donning a new saree which she had got herself for the occasion. Speaking to the premier with a big smile on her face, she said: "I am very very happy. Now I am in my own house with my husband and children. I was facing a lot of trouble earlier. Now you, the daughter of Sheikh Mujib, have gifted me land, house, new life, everything."

Nuru Mia, from Gazipur union under Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj, while talking to Sheikh Hasina, said: "You have given us a beautiful house with land. We are very happy today. I can now live happily with my wife and children. I pray to Allah that he may grant you a long life."

Fatema Begum, a physically challenged woman from Chapainawabganj, while greeting the premier said: "I did not have an address. I was ‘addressless’. Today, I have an address, all thanks to you. I am very happy now. May you live long so that a lot of people’s lives are as benefitted as mine."

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