- 2017-18 – 450 plots handed over
- 2015 – Tk2 lakh extra charged for each plot
- 2009 – Plot size reduced to 2.5 katha from 3 katha
- 2006 – total 548 plots sold
- 2003 – the project taken with 25 acres of land
Syed Muhammad Abul Hasem, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Abu Dhabi, booked a plot in the Lake City Housing Society project of Chattogram City Corporation with an initial payment of Tk8 lakh back in 2006.
He paid the rest Tk7 lakh on time in 2009, but did not get his land. Later in 2015, the corporation charged him another Tk2 lakh in the name of service charge.
16 years on. Yet, Abul Hasem's dream of a plot of his own remains elusive.
Going from one official to another with the hope of getting his purchased plot has now become his regular work, but with no avail.
"We have met the incumbent mayor for having our plots. Instead of addressing our problem, he neglectfully advised us to go to the graveyard of those [including former mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury] to whom we paid the money," Abul Hasem told The Business Standard.
"Expressing annoyance, the mayor also asked whether he would sell his assets for giving us the plots."
"Then what's wrong with us? We did not pay money to any individual, rather we paid that to a government body like the city corporation," he added.
Abul Hashem is one of the 98 victims who are yet to get their purchased plots in 16 years. However, the rest 450, out of the total 548, have received their plots in phases under the project taken by former mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury in 2003.
The city corporation initially acquired 25 acres of land at Bishow Colony of the city to make a planned residential area and wooed customers with aggressive advertisements in newspapers. Until 2006, the authorities sold a total of 548 plots under the project.
Although clients were initially supposed to be provided with 3 katha of land each, the size of the plots was cut two and a half katha later – thanks to the excessive number of clients. Yet, the authorities could not manage plots for all and kept the project activities suspended as a result.
With the end of ABM Mohiuddin's tenure, Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin took charge in 2015. He charged an additional Tk2 lakh from each in the name of service charge. In 2017 and 2018, he handed over 450 plots.
"There was corruption in handing over the 450 plots," Abul Hashem said, adding that those who maintained liaisons with the authorities were given the plots.
"Ordinary people like us did not get their land. Many who booked after me also got their plots, but we are still waiting."
"My husband had a dream of building our own home on the plot. But the authorities' negligence did not let him fulfil the dream. He died last year," said another victim Swati Baruya, who is now fighting to survive with her children.
"I am going door to door to the officials to have our plot. But no one is taking responsibility," she added.
Victims also complained that the authorities changed the design of the project in 2006 and made a mismatch. Many of those who were allotted plots in the initial plan were not kept in the appropriate serial in the later one.
"The City Corporation has failed to fulfil its core responsibilities. Who told them to trade plots? Some persons have done this business using the image of the city corporation," advocate Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, secretary of the Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik for Chattogram, said while talking to The Business Standard.
Those involved in this fraud should be brought to book, he suggested, adding that in case of failure to deliver the plot, compensation should be given as per the current market rates.
The Business Standard tried to contact the incumbent mayor of the corporation, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, several times over the phone but he could not be reached.
Meanwhile, its Chief Revenue Officer Mohammad Nazrul Islam said the corporation is yet to buy the required additional land so that it can deliver plots to 98 buyers.
"However, a discussion is going on whether they can be allocated to an alternative place. It has not been decided yet," he told TBS.