It is unthinkable that 10,000 people should become homeless overnight as we saw happen with the residents of Dhaka's Bhasantek slum this week. An eviction drive launched by the National Housing Authority (NHA) on Tuesday has left thousands of people without a home—with nowhere to go.
The land, which was acquired by the government in the '70s, is apparently being cleared to make room for a project titled “Griho Shuchona Flat”. While the NHA claims that the slum dwellers had been asked “many times” to vacate their homes and served multiple notices, residents say that they were never given a legal notice and an announcement was made only a week prior. These contradictory claims aside, one cannot deny that this is simply no way to reclaim government land. While the government has every right to take control over its own land, this particular situation could have been dealt with in a more humane manner. And why has the number of slums in the capital, many of which are on government land, been allowed to mushroom? We hope the government realises that the lack of adequate affordable housing in Dhaka is one of the major reasons why people choose slums to live in.
We are disappointed, but not totally surprised, that no action has yet been taken against all those people who had illegally acquired the land and helped set up these slums in the first place. It is extremely unfortunate that it's always the weakest section of our society that ends up being adversely affected every time something like this happens. The authorities should immediately take steps to rehabilitate these people and provide some form of relief until they can safely relocate elsewhere. And those who illegally took control over this piece of government land and profited off of slum dwellers for so long must be brought to book. These helpless people who have been forcefully evicted must not be the only ones to face the consequences.