An adequate housing, which not only gives a proper shelter but also provides the opportunity to lead a normal life, is a basic human right. It is reported that over 20% of the world’s population, or around 1.8 billion people, do not have adequate housing. With an estimated 4.4 million slum-dwellers in Dhaka alone, roughly 55 percent of Bangladesh’s population does not have access to decent housing.
There is no doubt that everyone deserves access to safe and affordable housing. People cannot be productive citizens, children cannot develop, and families cannot flourish without a decent place to live in. This is why, providing shelter to everybody has been recognised as a constitutional right.
Living conditions of slum-dwellers
Slum-dwellers live inside the shacks in slums with a challenging environment. Being constructed of plastic bags, bamboo, cardboard paper, mud, etc., the locations are usually unsuitable in terms of both capacity and security.
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Overcrowding, poor sanitation, a lack of running water, and limited or no access to electricity are just some of the challenges that the dwellers face daily. In addition, they suffer frequent movement in slums, a lack of sewage and waste disposal facilities, and virtually all forms of pollution. During rains, the situation gets worse with no way out.
Government’s flat initiative for slum-dwellers
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has approved a large number of construction projects for slum-dwellers around the country in an effort to alleviate the housing problem in low-income urban regions. One such landmark initiative is the construction of rental-based apartments for slum residents in the capital’s Mirpur area.
National Housing Authority (NHA) is building 10,000 apartments for people living in slums on 10 acres of land at Mirpur-11. This is in line with a strategy initiated by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the National Housing Policy-2016. A total of 533 flats have been completed in the first phase, while the second phase would include construction of 9,467 flats on eight acres of land, distributed among eighty 14-storied buildings.
PM Sheikh Hasina in 2017 took the first step to this effect by laying the foundation stone of the initial projects. In August of 2021, she provided 300 low-income families living in slums with newly-built apartments – enabling them to get municipal services. In the Bauniabadh neighbourhood of Mirpur 11, the National Housing Authority has built five structures totalling 14 floors. According to the NHA authorities, the government has spent approximately Tk 131 billion on the construction of five structures for slum inhabitants.
Costing compared with facilities
These buildings have a total of 533 apartments. Each apartment is 510 square feet large (673 sqft including common space). Every apartment has two bedrooms. In addition to this, there is a living room, a dining room, a balcony, and a bathroom. For each flat, the government charges Tk 4,500 per month. In addition, the service charge for the elevator, security, and water is Tk 1500. Furthermore, gas and electricity costs are paid by the tenant. A family spends between Tk 8,000 to 8,500 monthly in total.
The apartments include all the features of a modern urban housing, including a lift, a generator, solar power, wide pathways, power substations, outdoor spaces, and illumination for beautification.
There are two elevators and three stairs in each building. From the first floor to the fourteenth floor, there is a fire fighting system installed. To guarantee the safety of the people, 10 Ansar members have been assigned on a permanent basis. According to locals, wedding ceremonies take place in vacant areas on every building’s ground level. At the moment, deep tube-wells are used to supply water to these structures. Installation of a water pump by WASA is almost done as well.
With its own funds, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works implemented the project at Mirpur 11. In addition, a new housing development for slum residents is being built right adjacent to the existing structures. Another project to house 12,000 slum-dwellers in Tongi has also been launched by the government, according to Executive Engineer Joarder Tabedun Nabi of Dhaka Region-1, NHA. The said project is also under progress.