Ashrayan Project: Dreams shattered
Twenty-one houses recently built in Jamalpur's Sarishabari upazila under a government project for the homeless are already inundated following the recent rains.
The houses, constructed at a cost of Tk 35,70,000, had been handed over to these families earlier this year.
The 21 landless families who finally got their own houses under the Ashrayan project were forced to leave those to live under the open sky due to flooding, they said.
Abdur Rahman and four other members of his family moved to their house on May 18. But a heavy rainfall last week forced them to leave and stay in a makeshift tent made of plastic along the road.
The site of the housing project, in the middle of local Karbari Beel in Mahadan union, remains waterlogged for almost half the year, he said.
Rahman's wife Taslima Begum said they used to live on others' land earlier and were happy to get their own house.
"I work as a day labourer as my husband is ill and the current situation has put the whole family into deep misery," lamented Taslima.
When the Subornakhali river, a tributary of the Jamuna, swells during the monsoon, water enters a local beel making it uninhabitable, said 40-year-old Lucky Begum who along with her two children received a house three months ago.
Recent rainfall that led to the flooding in the beel forced Hamida Akter to leave her house too. Even when the water recedes, risks remain as cracks have developed in the walls of many houses, alleged Hamida.
These displaced families also said no official has visited the area since the start of their sufferings following the heavy rainfall recently.
They alleged that before constructing the houses, a base of reasonable height was not created by earth filling to protect the residents from the waterlogging.
Chairman of Mahadan union parishad Anisur Rahman said at the beginning of the project, he protested the site selection in a low-lying area, but no one bothered to do anything about it.
Sarishabari upazila parishad Chairman Giasuddin Pathan said the houses were built on ground comparatively lower than that of the water level following heavy showers. He said before selecting the site, the project implementing body should have considered that local rivers overflow during deluges.
Talking to this correspondent, Shihab Uddin Ahmed, upazila nirbahi officer in Sarishabari, said most areas in the upazila are low-lying. As the Upazila Ashrayan Taskforce Implementation Committee got suitable khas land in the Karbari area, adjacent to a local canal, it selected the site for the project.
The waterlogging might have resulted from a temporary problem with the canal embankment and the water will soon recede and the situation will ease, said the UNO.
About the residents alleging cracks developing in the walls of many houses, the UNO said those would be repaired.
The UNO added he has already sent relief, including rice, to the affected families and will provide other necessary support.