Slipping back to uncertainty
A homeless freedom fighter and eight others, who have been blessed with a cluster of houses in Shajahanpur, Bogura, have found that even moderate rains can leave their new houses completely flooded.
Thanks to the rains last week, even the front and back yards of the houses, given to the homeless people as a gift from the prime minister, are still under water, causing unbearable suffering to the residents.
The houses were built under the Ashrayon Prokolpo-2 at a cost of Tk 15.39 lakh by the Department of Disaster Management in 2020. The nine individuals, including six widows, moved in six months ago.
Locals said it was no surprise that the houses have been flooded, because the low-laying piece of land, on which these have been built, always got flooded during monsoon. Some said they pointed this out to the officials at the outset, but the latter didn't pay heed to their advice.
"We are suffering a lot. There is water inside. Our toilets, and tube wells have been inundated. We have to wade through knee-deep water if we want to leave the neighbourhood," said 68-year-old freedom fighter Hujur Ali.
"We are homeless, the prime minister gifted us the houses, but they made these on a piece of land where nobody can live in monsoon. Where will we go now?" he asked.
He also alleged that the houses were poorly built and the officials have misappropriated the funds.
Fifty-five-year-old Aysha Begum, another resident, said, "If these houses get inundated after a little rain, what will happen during actual floods? Where will we go?"
She added that the inundated toilet and kitchen make it particularly harder for women to live there.
Contacted, Mahmuda Parveen, who was the UNO of Shajahanpur during the construction of the houses, said, "We didn't have any other land where we could build the houses for the homeless. When we constructed the houses, the land was dry. The local chairman told us that they would make system to drain the water from the place."
However, she refuted the allegations of corruption and said the houses were well-built.
Asif Ahmed, who is the current UNO, said, "We arranged a primary school building where the residents will be taken for the time being. There is a canal called Danguli. Locals blocked the canal at seven places... We have cleared the canal. Hopefully, the water will be drained [through the canal] soon."