Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the government will rehabilitate the landless and homeless people across the country and arrange housing for those losing their homes in flood and riverbank erosion alongside.
“This time the flood looks to be serious… more floods are likely to occur in August and September. We’ve preparations to face these. We’ll also arrange accommodation and lands for those losing their homes in flood or river erosion,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while opening the special structures built under ‘Khurushkul Ashrayan Project’ in Cox’s Bazar for 600 climate refugees.
Sheikh Hasina inaugurated 20 five-storey structures constructed in the first phase of the world’s biggest climate refugee rehabilitation project at Khurushkul on the outskirts of Cox’s Bazar through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban.
The 600 families are getting their new abodes with all modern facilities in 20 structures, each having 32 flats, constructed on the bank of the Bakkhali River, just three kilometres off the beach town.
At the inaugural function, some beneficiaries were handed over the keys of the 456-square foot flats.
The Prime Minister said the government is taking measures for the rehabilitation of landless and homeless people throughout the country.
“In the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation, our goal is that not a single person in Bangladesh would remain homeless,” she said adding that the government will arrange home for every person.
Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a dream that Bangladesh would be a hunger- and poverty-free country and her government is on the track to fulfill this dream.
About the Khurushkul Ashrayan Project, she said a separate nice township will be developed at the project site. A community clinic and dry fish market will also be built there, she said.
Hasina said the Father of the Nation had taken an initiative to ensure housing for homeless people and undertaken ‘Gucchagram project’ after witnessing the miseries of the homeless and destitute people, who were regularly affected by natural calamities, during his visit to Laxmipur after the independence of the country.
The Prime Minister mentioned that her government first undertook ‘Ashrayan project’ during her first term after she witnessed the miseries of people following a devastating cyclone that ravaged the coastline in 1997 again.
She said her government wants to develop Cox’s Bazar as a beautiful tourist town as the world’s longest sandy sea beach is there.
All the newly-constructed structures are equipped with a ramp system for people with disabilities, solar panels, safe drinking water, electricity, sanitation, waste management, drainage, cylinder gas and burner.
A total of 4,409 families of climate refugees will be rehabilitated at the site as 139 five-storey buildings under the Khurushkul Ashrayan scheme being implemented by Bangladesh Army on 253.59 acres of land spending Tk 1800 crore as part of the Ashrayan Project-2.
Since the Ashrayan (Providing Home) Project was launched in 1997, Khurushkul scheme is the country’s largest rehabilitation project. The Khurushkul project will have four zones — residential, tourism, dry fish processing zone or ‘shutki mahal’ and a buffer precinct with greenery.
Its beneficiaries are mostly the victims of the 1991 devastating cyclone that forced them to take refuge at crammed shanties in Cox’s Bazar airport area for several decades.
The ground floors of the new buildings have been kept vacant so that floodwater and tidal surge can damage nothing. There are also tube-wells and rainwater harvesting system.
Later, the Prime Minister exchanged views with beneficiaries of the project and local dignitaries through the videoconference.
A video presentation over the project was screened at the function.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed also spoke at the function moderated by PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus.
The Principal Secretary said a total of 319,141 families, including 164,763 landless and 153,777 homeless ones, were rehabilitated under the Ashrayan project launched in 1997.
Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lieutenant General Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office were present on the occasion.