Yasin Chowdhury got a plot in Karnaphuli Housing, the first housing project of the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), as he had given his homestead for the project taken back in the early 1990s.
But, he could not build his home on the allotted land as utility services – water, gas and electricity – were not ensured in the project area.
As a result, he has been living in a rented house at Firingibazar of the port city for more than two decades.
Yasin told The Business Standard, "I gave my land to live in a planned residential area. Although the CDA assured me that they would provide all services, it has not yet been able to provide drinking water. As a result, I did not construct any building on the allotted plot."
"I have come to the end of my life. Maybe I would not be able to see my own house," the 70-year-old man lamented.
In the last 60 years, the CDA initiated a total of 13 residential projects. Of these, four including Ananya Abasik 1 and 2 are yet to be implemented. Besides, CDA's Salimpur and
Karnaphuli residential projects are about to be abandoned. In this context, the CDA has initiated another new housing project, named Bayezid Housing, with 167 residential and 18 commercial plots.
According to CDA sources, the 'Bayezid Housing' will be implemented on 19.65 acres of land adjacent to Bayezid Bostami Link Road. The estimated cost of this housing project is Tk357.82 crore.
The project is scheduled to be implemented between June 2021 and June 2023. The cost of per katha land in this housing project will be Tk30-35 lakh. In addition to CDA's own three acres of land, more 17.65 acres will be acquired. Implementation of the project will start as soon as the land is acquired.
Meanwhile, civil society representatives of Chattogram and plot buyers of previous projects have raised question about the CDA initiative to implement a new housing project leaving four projects unfinished.
They said the plan to implement the new residential project in a hilly area like Bayezid Link Road is not realistic as two-thirds of the plots of earlier projects are still vacant. Besides, if a residential project is implemented in that hilly area, there is a possibility that surrounding hills, adjacent to the project area, will be cut down.
Engineer Subhash Barua, vice-president of the Parikolpito Chattogram Forum, told TBS, "New projects are being undertaken without identifying and resolving the problems of unimplemented ones. The new project has been undertaken, keeping the earlier projects unfinished, only to pocket the money of people. Bayezid is a mountainous area, and housing projects there would mean the destruction of the surrounding hills."
In this regard, CDA Chief Engineer Kazi Hassan bin Shams said, "It is mentioned in the CDA master plan that a new housing project should be planned on 50 acres of land every year. But CDA has not undertaken any housing project in the last 10 years."
"Several earlier projects were undertaken without scrutiny. Feasibility study was weak. So, people are not showing interest in building houses in some project areas including Ananya Abasik 1 and 2. However, we have taken up the Bayezid Housing project after studying the details of the project area," he added.
This residential area, just five minutes away from the city, will be the new address for tasteful people, he hoped.
Sources concerned said the CDA has allotted about 6,660 plots in 13 residential projects in the last 60 years to solve the housing problem in the city. No houses have been built on two-thirds of the allotted plots.
One plot after another is just changing hands. Many are waiting for the price to rise. The main objective of the CDA's initiative has not yet been achieved as the plots are still vacant. Besides, unplanned initiatives have resulted in the abandonment of CDA's Salimpur and Karnafuli residential projects.
Enamul is the son of Shafiq Sikder, one of those who got plots in Karnaphuli Abasik. He said, "My father was a businessman from Reyazuddin Bazar of the city. With his hard-earned money, he bought a three-katha plot in 1994 from CDA. He dreamt of building his house near the city; that is why he bought the land 26 years ago at a cost of Tk2.5 lakh. But with that dream in mind, my father passed away two years ago."
The Salimpur CDA residential area was established in the hilly area of Salimpur union in Sitakunda in the 1960s.
After about 30 years, in the 1992-93 financial year, an initiative was taken to build the 'Karnaphuli Residential Project' on the bank of the River Karnaphuli. In 2007, the CDA initiated another housing project, Ananya Abasik-1, beside the Oxygen Quaish Link Road. Ananya Abasik-2 residential project was undertaken in 2016. But even though one project after another was taken up, not a single one was fully implemented, providing all kinds of civic services.
CDA chief engineer Kazi Hassan bin Shams said, "Gas has recently reached the Salimpur residential area implemented 70 years ago. So, now people are building houses there. The soil condition of Ananya residential area is not good, so people are not coming forward to build houses there."
"For lack of drinking water, housing was not developed in the Karnaphuli residential project. Now we are trying to supply water to this project from WASA's Bhandarjuri project under construction at Anwara. Hopefully, if the Bhandarjuri project is implemented by 2021, there will be no problem in supplying water to this residential area," the CDA chief engineer added.