CCC puts up ads to sell flats built for marginal people
Media: The Independent
The Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) has put up advertisements to sell a seven-storied building and a three-storied shelter centre built for slum dwellers, floating people and marginal people, it has been alleged.
The seven-storied building has been built in the city’s Tigar Pass area to rehabilitate people living on the risky hilly slopes, while the three-storied shelter centre at BRTC circle area has been constructed for floating and marginal people. After completing the construction works, the CCC now says that the decision to allocate the buildings among slum dwellers and marginal people was unrealistic.
The CCC put up an advertisement on June 13 and 14 in local newspapers to sell the three-storied shelter centre for setting up shops. And without allocating the seven-storied building to slum dwellers, it is now planning to sell those flats to those from whom it took money to build the building.
When contacted, CCC mayor AJM Nasir Uddin told The Independent, “The decision to give flats to slum dwellers was not realistic. We took nominal money from slum dwellers, but now the price of a flat has gone up to about Tk. 10-12 lakh. They can’t pay this amount. We’ve spent a lot of money on this. Now, we’d like to generate some income from the premises.”
Expressing deep concern over the matter, Belayet Hossain, a slum dweller, said: “We’ve been told that the flats will be handed over to uswithin one year. But we’re yet to get our flats after three years. We gave money to the CCC by taking loans. We’re in deep trouble now as we live in rented houses.”
“They evicted us after giving assurance that we’d be rehabilitated. But they are yet to hand over the flats,” said Minu Begum, another slum dweller.
The local administration and CCC had evicted about 50 families from the hill slopes, who were living there for 50 years, and assured them that they would be rehabilitated. The city corporation had also taken money from them to build the buildings.
The CCC collected identity cards and took Tk. 10, 000 from each of the 33 slum dwellers and gave them a receipt. They were supposed to pay a monthly installment of Tk. 2,500 for 15 years.
The catastrophic landslide which claimed 127 lives in 2007 prompted the formation of two committees. Their 36-point recommendation to avert the possible loss of lives from landslides includes evacuating people from the risky areas and measures to rehabilitate them. Following the recommendation, the local administration evicted the 50 families in 2013, assuring them that they would be rehabilitated.
The CCC built the building on a seven-katha land by spending Tk. 7 crore, where 161 families were supposed to be rehabilitated. Each flat (250 square feet) has one bedroom, one toilet, and a kitchen.
But the CCC has changed their decision and asked the contractor to build each flat with about 1,000-sq ft area for affluent people.
CCC sources said it was a non-profitable project meant for marginal people, and that it was decided that the construction cost would be taken from them and they would pay a monthly installment for 15 years according to their capacity.
As part of his election manifesto, the then mayor M Manjur Alam began the construction of the three-storied shelter centre in the city’s BRTC area for floating and marginal people in the fiscal year 2011-2012 by spending Tk. 86 lakh. The construction work has been completed, and without allocating the shelter centre to floating and marginal people, the CCC has put up advertisements to sell them for shops.
“I don’t want to explain why we took up the project. If we allow floating people to live in the shelter centre, it’ll soon become a safe haven for criminals,” said the CCC mayor.
The building’s second floor was designed for floating men and the first floor for women. There are separate toilets for men and women. A deep tube-well was also set up there.
Slamming the decision of the city corporation, Prof. Tofail Ahmed, an eminent local government expert, said: “Shelter centres are necessary for floating people in a city. Such shelters are a matter of pride. Using it for other purposes will not be correct legally and morally.”