Having a home is a basic right of all citizens of a sovereign country. In Bangladesh, it is a dream, not a reality.
Possessing a piece of land or a flat in the capital is almost impossible for the majority of city-dwellers. The cost of such land or a flat is so high that just the thought of it is unrealistic to many. Our government should take pragmatic steps to help materialise this right of its citizens.
Bangladesh is an overpopulated country. Limitation of agricultural land is one of the problems confronting the country. Agricultural land is essential to meet the demands of food for the country’s citizens. Keeping these factors in mind, both sides of the Dhaka-Savar road, under the Savar upazila, can be developed as a township adjacent to the capital.
The lands on both sides of the road, in general, are mostly low-lying and remain submerged for half of the year. Farmers can grow only one crop on the land in a year. The height of the land could be increased up to the Dhaka-Manikganj highway, by filling the road with the silt of the nearby rivers.
From an agricultural point of view, the land is of low value -- but this very land could be converted to a place millions of people can call home, and perhaps reduce the burden of Dhaka’s ever-increasing population problem.
Plots could be reserved for citizens of Dhaka who are affected negatively by the work of the city corporation, the government projects etc. Similarly, plots in industrial towns should be leased out to industrial ventures for five years temporarily
The project could also include setting up an industrial township to facilitate industrial ventures. The riverside of the land may be developed as an industrial town and the opposite side of the highway may be developed as residential town. The highway would be able to facilitate road communication from Dhaka to the proposed township.
Housing and settlement directors may be assigned to develop the residential area and Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industrial Corporation could be in charge of developing the industrial township. Plots in the residential town may be leased out to three categories of people: Affected landowners of the town area, evicted landowners in Dhaka city, and the general public.
A township of such should refrain from including quotas given to judges, MPs, non-resident Bangladeshis etc. Provision 19(1) of the Bangladesh constitution says that the state shall endeavour to ensure equality of opportunity to all citizens, and that should be honoured. Plots could be reserved for citizens of Dhaka who are affected negatively by the work of the city corporation, the government projects etc. Similarly, plots in industrial towns should be leased out to industrial ventures for five years temporarily. After an industrial lease constructs an industrial unit on the land, the lease can be further extended for 45 years. If any lease fails to set up an industrial unit within the stipulated five years, the land will be leased out to another potential industrial venture.
Ministry concerns should not participate or interfere in the allocation process of plots. Only in the case of complaint, the ministry would investigate and advise for disciplinary action if allegation appears true.
In the township, when land plots could be leased out to the general people and industrial ventures at reasonable prices, a basic right of having a residence can be achieved.
A good number of people from the low-income groups of the society would be able to have their dream homes there. In addition, the scarcity of industrial land could also be minimised.
Md Ashraf Hossain is a freelance contributor.