Satellite town for service holdersMd Ashraf Hossain, Dhaka
Bangladesh is an over-populated country and land here is very precious. Having a home is a dream as well as a basic right of every citizen. But owning a piece of land or a flat highly costly in the capital Dhaka is impossible for honest service holders who have no other income but salary, whereas, during the 1950s and 60s, even a third class employee of government could construct at least a tin-shed house in a city by savings made throughout his/her service life.
Developing a satellite town near Dhaka to facilitate the growing housing needs of the city’s very limited-income group service holders could be an effective solution. Lauhajang, Shrijdikhan and Srinagar upazilas of Munshiganj district, located about 20 to 25 kilometres away from the Zero Point of Dhaka, are ideal for the project. The upazilas are situated by the river Padma, where one end of the Padma Bridge is planned to be constructed. As these areas are low, their height could be increased up to the level of the Dhaka-Mawa highway by filling huge silt of the river Padma. Removal of silt would increase navigability and facilitate fast movement of huge flood water in monsoon. It would also reduce river erosion and increase safety of the planned bridge. On the other hand, the existing low level lands are mostly single-cropped. The sizes of the plots and their prices must be fixed prudently. There could be special plots for various institutions like schools, hospitals etc.
The Housing and Settlement Directorate may implement these project plots in the proposed satellite town which can be leased out to two categories of people: the affected land owners of the satellite town area and the limited income service holders. No quota should be there as experience says that quota facility had been misused earlier. The selection should be through lottery.
Only those who really need plots are to be selected. To ensure this, a provision should be made to deposit 25% of the estimated price of the plot along with application to eliminate applicants who apply only to sell the plot, if allotted. The service holders should be informed well ahead of time the details of allotment of plots so that genuine service holders can make adequate arrangements.
Applications should be received after one month from the last date of selling application forms. The political or bureaucratic high ups should be kept out of lottery for the allocation of plots. Only in cases of complaints, the ministry should investigate and advise for disciplinary action if allegation appears true or misconduct is detected.
If a satellite town is developed converting the Lauhajang, Shrajdikhan and Srinagar upazilas, land could be leased out to service holders at a relatively low price. A good number of service holders would be able to build their dream home there and the basic right of a good portion of the people could be ensured.
Md Ashraf Hossain
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