Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today reiterated her steadfast commitment to ensure housing for all, including the flood and river erosion-hit people, as she inaugurated the world's biggest housing project for climate refugees in Cox's Bazar.
"We're celebrating 'Mujib Barsho', marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Our aim during his birth centenary is that not a single person will remain homeless. We'll construct a house, even at least a shed, for every person," she said while opening 'Khurushkul Ashrayan Prokalpa' in the outskirts of Cox's Bazar town through videoconference from her official residence Gono Bhaban this morning.
Referring to the ongoing flood situation in the country, the premier said her government has all preparations to combat the flood and will make arrangements for building houses and allotment of land for those who will be affected by flood and river erosion.
"We know that the menace of flood is more apparent (this season). This is the Bengali month of Sraban and more water will come in Bhadra, meaning that the country may witness more flooding in August-September," she said.
"We have preparation to face the flood and aim to make arrangements for building houses and (allotment of) land for those who will be affected by the flooding and river erosion," he added.
The prime minister said her government has allocated money separately in the budget for constructing houses for the homeless.
Sheikh Hasina said giving attention to this, her government has taken tree plantation campaign in one hand, while it has taken steps to build houses for the homeless on the other.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed spoke on the occasion, while Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lt Gen Md Mahfuzur Rahman and senior officials of the Prime Minister's Office were present at Gono Bhaban.
PM's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function, while three beneficiaries of the project spoke from Cox's Bazar.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner moderated the function in Cox's Bazar, while General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the area Major General Md Main Ullah Chowdhury, local Awami League President Sirajul Mostafa and some other leaders joined the videoconference from there.
Local parliament members and officials of the administration and the project were present in Cox's Bazar.
With today's inauguration, 600 families would get new shelter in 20 just-built special structures having 32 flats with all modern amenities, Ashrayan's project director Md Mahbub Hossain told reporters in Cox's Bazar on Wednesday.
He said each family will get a 456.07 square feet flat in exchange of only Taka 1,001 while all the buildings were equipped with ramps for people with disabilities, solar panels, safe drinking water, electricity, sanitation, waste management, drainage, cylinder gas and burner.
Hossain said under the scheme a total of 4,409 climate refugee families would be rehabilitated at the site as army troops were assigned to construct 139 five-storey buildings on 253.59 acres of land at a cost of Taka 1,800.39 crore.
The prime minister said the government is making arrangements for rehabilitation of the landless and homeless people across the country.
"We're constructing houses for them through the Ashrayan Project. Besides, anybody can build a house by taking loan from the housing fund of Bangladesh Bank," she said.
Pointing out massive development work being implemented in Cox's Bazar, the prime minister said, "We have undertaken multifaceted programmes for the development of the district … two or three tourist zones will be built, while we're making arrangements for livelihood of the people. Besides a special economic zone will be set up there," she said.
Highlighting various facilities for the inhabitants of Khurushkul Ashrayan Project, the premier said it will be built as a separate town.
Mentioning that green belt will be erected along the river beside the project to save it from cyclones and storms, she urged its residents to clean their homes and plant trees in the project area.
The prime minister thanked all concerned for implementing the Khurushkul Ashrayan Project.
Later, the prime minister handed over keys to some residents of the project on digital platform, while three beneficiaries of the scheme planted trees at the project site on behalf of the premier.
According to the project director, Khurushkul Ashrayan Prokalpa would have four zones -- residential, tourism, dried fish processing zone or 'shutki mahal' and a buffer precinct with greenery.
"The size of the structures and number of beneficiaries made the Khurushkul scheme the country's largest rehabilitation project" since the Ashrayan Prokalpa was launched in 1997 following a devastating cyclone in the southeastern coastline, he said.
But the beneficiaries of the Khurushkul scheme were mostly victims of the deadly 1991 cyclone that turned them homeless forcing them to take refuge in the airport area in Cox's Bazar town where they virtually languished in crammed shanties in the subsequent decades.
Under PMO supervision, army's 10 infantry division and Cox's Bazar district and upazila administrations jointly constructed the 20 buildings in the first phase of the project, while the Khurushkul Ashrayan Prokalpa was taken in 2014-15 fiscal on premier's directives.
"Since then, a total of 3,19,140 families were rehabilitated, and of them 2,13,227 were rehabilitated from June 2010 to June 2020," Hossain said.