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Ashrayan project changing lot of the homeless

Published : 07 Apr 2022 10:11 PM | Updated : 07 Apr 2022 10:11 PM

For over a century, dozens of landless families have been living by building shanties inside mango groves of Babupara Mahanandakhali village under Paba upazila. Locally, those shanties are termed as 'Tong Ghar'. 

Without having any basic facility for living, those homeless families somehow live there by facing perennial flood water during the Monsoon, bitter cold during the Winter and strong whirlwind during the onset of Summer. There is no water supply, no sanitation , no electricity and even no cooking facilities but they have been living in those shanties for generations by braving all odds.

Now, as per the instruction of the Prime Minister, new,  concrete houses are being built under Ashrayan Project for those 10 destitute-homeless families. All the family members are now eagerly waiting to enter those brand new houses.

 Destitute Sangira Toppo (50), a female member of Mohanandakhali village informed, 'We've never dreamt of a new house of our own. 

I live with my husband by building a 'Bhour' (Bhera, bhela  or raft built by bamboo and straw on the ground) over knee-deep water during monsoon. We never imagined that we'd live in the house built of bricks. We've no language to express our gratitude to Sheikh Hasina. We'd be able to live the rest of our lives happily, ' she said. 

Widowed Seema Rani (32) of the same village lives with her father-in- law and mother-in-law in the shanty. A PM's gracious house has been allocated for her. Her father-in-law and mother-in-law are also getting separate new houses.  Seema said, ' We earn our living by working in the fields and at the construction sites. The money we earn by selling our sweat is not enough to fill our hungry stomachs. It is completely impossible for us to purchase a fragment of land and to build a house on that land. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has cast her eyes for the destitute people like us. Our sorrow is going to be ended soon,' she added with gratefulness in expression. 

Jamal Orao (57) of the neighbouring shanty mentioned, ' Aftermath of the Liberation War, we've been living in these rafts. Our lives are entangled with soil, clay and water. We have no word to express with what hazard we used to live with. Now, we are very happy and cheerful.' 

Another family member Kartik Lakra (40) said, they have no electricity in their shanty and his daughter used to prepare her lessons of class three by sitting under a kerosene lamp (kupi). 'Now, new houses are being built for us under the gracious initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Our house will have electricity. My daughter will be able to read under electric light . She would turn to a prized personality of nation in future,' hoped Kartik. 

According to sources, the construction of houses of the first and the second stage under the Asrayan Project have been completed at Jhalpukur village under Mohanpur upazila of Rajshahi where many homeless people have been provided with.  Construction of some more houses are continuing in the third phase. A minority ethnic community woman named Mukhkho Da has been provided in a house built under the third phase of construction. She said, ' Never, even during my father's era we've imagined that we would have such a brand new, nice, knit house any day. Sheikh Hasina has loved us very much. We can not express our happiness.' 

Antor Sarder (30), a labourer will also be provided in the house. He said, ' I can't sleep by watching that the constuction of our houses have started'. Tina Hembrom, wife of Antor  standing with her tiny-tot on the lap said,' We used to live in tin shed Tong house on the khas land. We suffer hardship and trouble during the summer and during the rainy season. Now, our trouble is being removed. What can be more happier than this for the poor people like us ! '

  The houses being built at the first and the second phase, contain two rooms with plastered brick walls. Each house has a verandah in front, one toilet with water supply system, one cook house and the surrounding open space. Public Health Engineering dept has also set up submersible pumps and water tanks to provide clean drinking water for the residents of the houses. Female members of the houses have already decorated their houses with necessary furniture, cots and utensils. Some of them are also rearing chickens, goats and cattle heads while others are engaged in sewing.  By getting the houses in the Mujib Borsho, the lot of these destitute people have been changed abruptly. 

According to Abdul Jalil, Deputy Commissioner, Rajshahi, there are 4,321 landless people in the district of them 692 and 854 people have been provided with houses gifted by the Prime Minister in the first and the second phase respectively. During the third phase, 481 and 786 people will be provided with houses and rest 1,508 people will also get their houses by the next December. Each house costs Tk 171,000 during the first phase, Tk 240,000 during the second phase and Tk 259,000 during the third phase. The construction of the third phase of houses is now continuing.