POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Govt’s Ashrayan project bearing fruits

Govt’s Ashrayan project bearing fruits

It is good to know that the government initiated ‘Ashrayan Prakalpa’ has tremendously helped some families who lost everything to river erosion in the far flung rural area in the Rangpur region called Gangachara. According to a report of this newspaper Tuesday, about a total of 2,660 river-eroded families have changed their life by this housing project initiated in 1997. Under the government’s comprehensive social safety-net programmes, this housing project has provided supports to people who could otherwise move to urban areas particularly Dhaka for their survival.

Here is the point. Every year in our country, people are rendered homeless either by cyclones or floods or river erosion. This is true both in the case in the country’s northern as well as southern areas. There was a time when just out of extreme poverty, ‘monga’ of Rangpur for example, poverty-stricken people flocked to urban places for work. That time is now no more. But natural vagaries still in our country are continuing to displace people many of whom could better be called climate refugees. These people, when they move to cities, disturb the natural balances. Dhaka is every year ranked among the cities most unlivable on earth. The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) that makes this annual study cites many things as the reasons for this. But EIU fails to point out that overpopulation of the city is the most urgent problem that the city planners must address first. The ever burgeoning population of the city is creating many of the other problems of the city. Dhaka has to be saved.

And for this the exodus of people from the country’s rural areas has to be stopped first. This is possible only when these people get their habitats and livelihood means in their own places where they used to live. The housing programmes like the government’s ‘Asrayan Prakalpapa’ and similar safety-net programmes is the answer. To preserve the environmental balance and to prevent Dhaka’s even more centralization, this is vital. That is why the people who in future will lose their homes to river erosion or floods or super cyclones like Aila and Sidr must be immediately rehabilitated through housing programmes so that they can live their life in their own area. Once a person gets a shelter, finding a livelihood means becomes a lot easier, either by support from the government or NGOs. Even they can help themselves when they have a shade over their head.