Shelter is one of three basic needs of people, apart from being a constitutional right, that governments should take as an obligation to ensure. And nobody will disagree that providing easy and affordable housing in Bangladesh, to the vast majority made up primarily of the middleclass, is by no means an easy task. And that is because of the overwhelming gap between demand and supply which is compounded even more by the acute scarcity of the most important component, the land. What we need, thus, is a coherent, well thought out plan which will be able to sustain the pressure of growing demand. And such a plan can be acceptable if the interest of all the stakeholders—the landowner, the developer, the financer and the buyer—is met.
Unfortunately, instead of tackling this critical factor, owing to bad planning resulting in ad hoc policies and initiatives that are at best piecemeal where resources are used in driblets and often times dissipated, owning home has become a dream for the greater majority of the country’s middle class. Many government projects have been catered exclusively to the most affluent and rich overlooking the need of the less affluent. The government agencies like Rajuk in the capital and the NHA for developing housing projects countrywide, have done little to make housing affordable for the middle class and the poor. And a glaring example of this is the Bhashantek project.
Our planners would do well to learn from some of the policies taken up by the neighbouring countries, particularly India where innovation and salutary steps like small unit community housing project, as in Mumbai, and providing tax breaks, have made it easier for people with limited means to own homes. It would be well also for the administration to take cognizance of the extremely relevant and doable suggestions offered at an RT on affordable housing organised by this paper on October 12, 2019.