Speakers at a discussion yesterday demanded forming a national slum commission to ensure permanent housing project for the low-income people, and investigate causes behind slum fires.
They alleged that although the High Court has issued a rule not to evacuate slum dwellers without proper rehabilitation, slums are burnt down and evacuated every year. It should be revealed whether the blazes are accidents or sabotage, they said.
They were speaking at a discussion titled “Frequent fire incidents at slums and permanent solution to housing crisis” at the capital’s Jatiya Press Club.
Environmental rights body Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) and non-government development organisation Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) jointly organised the event.
Speaking there, Pankaj Bhattacharjee, president of Oikya NAP (National Awami Party), alleged that the government is deceiving the people by being negligent in developing their standard of living.
“A commission should be formed immediately to look into all issues of slum dwellers,” he demanded.
He also suspected involvement of an influential group behind evacuating the slums by setting fire, to occupy these places.
Citing acute disparity in housing between poor and rich people, he stressed the importance of changing the state policies to resolve such crisis.
The discriminatory view of the state about slum dwellers has to be changed, as it is important to remember that this state is dependent on their contribution in many ways,” he said.
In his speech, Pavel Partha, a researcher at BARCIK, blamed unplanned establishment of slums for fire incident.
He demanded a planned and healthy environment for slum dwellers.
Awami Bastuhara League general secretary Rashed said the government should take proper plan for all citizens equally. “The dream of establishing a digital Bangladesh will not be fulfilled, if this huge number of slum dwellers remain underdeveloped,” he added.
Md Jahangir Alam, project coordinator of BARCIK, placed a 12-point demand, including proper rehabilitation of the 5,000 dwellers at Chalantika slum in Dhaka’s Mirpur -- which was recently gutted by fire, providing compensation of Tk 15 crore; ensuring allowances to poor slum dwellers; and ensuring facilities of education and healthcare.
Among others, Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra general secretary Dr Wajedul Islam Khan, Poba general secretary Abdus Sobhan, and secretary Ferdous Ahmed Ujjal also spoke at the discussion, presided over by Poba Chairman Abu Naser Khan.