Satellite towns

HAVING a home is a dream as well as basic right of every citizen. But having a peace of land or a flat in the capital Dhaka is impossible for the majority of the city dwellers. The cost of land or flat is so high that even the thought of buying one seems unrealistic. The democratically elected government should take a pragmatic programme to materialise the desire of its citizens.

Bangladesh is an overpopulated country. Arable land is very much essential for growing food for the people. Scarcity of arable land is one of the problems. Keeping these factors in mind, Lauhaganj and Srinagar upazilas under Munshiganj could be developed as satellite town of Dhaka. The upazilas are situated by the river Padma. Vast tracts of land in the upazila are low-lying and remain under water for half of the year. People can grow only one crop a year. People develop tilla gathering earth and construct their houses for living there. In rainy season they usually move by boats from one place to other. It is about 25 kilometres away from the zero point in the capital Dhaka. The distance is less than that of Uttara or Mirpur in Dhaka.

When the construction of the Padma Bridge begins, the silt deposited in the riverbed could be used to bring the land up to the sea level and, given its low agricultural value, can be used for development of a satellite town, which, in turn, could facilitate habitation for thousands of people and ease the pressure on the capital.

On the other hand, crop production would be less affected, as the low land is cultivated once a year. Part of the Dhaka-Khulna highway, that is, Dhaka to Mawa, would be widened for the Padma Bridge. It would facilitate easy road communication form Dhaka to the proposed satellite town without additional investment. People would be able to work in the capital and live in the satellite town.

The housing and settlement directorate could be assigned to implement the project as Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha is overburdened and a lot of complaints have been flying in the air against Rajuk. Plots may be leased out to three categories of people, 1) affected land owners, 2) affected land owners in Dhaka city and 3) general public. No quota like judges, freedom fighters, MPs, government officials, autonomous body officials, non-resident Bangladeshis, artists, journalists, lawyers or whatsoever should be there.

In line with the Bangladesh constitution all citizens should get equal opportunity. Article 19(1) of the constitution says that the state shall endeavour to ensure equality of opportunity to all citizens. There should be only one category, citizens of Bangladesh. If applicants’ number exceeds the number of plots, there could be a lottery. Some plots could be reserved for affected people in Dhaka city who would be affected by the development work of the government, Dhaka City Corporation, etc.

When a satellite town is developed in Lauhaganj and Srinagar upazilas, land could be leased out to general people at a relatively low cost. A good number of low-income people would be able to have their dream home there.

Md Ashraf Hossain
Srinagar, Munshiganj

new age

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