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Work on hold for months for various objections

Mirpur integrated township project

Kamrun Nahar | June 12, 2019 00:00:00

Work on the Mirpur integrated township development project at section-9 in the capital has remained stalled for seven months now for multiple objections from various quarters.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) project is being implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, violating the Open Space and Wetland Conservation Act 2000.

The development period was in 2014-2015 and procurement period in 2015-2016, but NHA and Tropical Homes signed a memorandum of understanding on October 30, 2018.

Housing ministry is reviewing the objections raised regarding the agreement between NHA and the private developer.

The pilot PPP project of NHA 'Construction of Satellite Township with Multi-storey Flat Building at Section-9 in Mirpur' has long been hanging in the balance.

NHA was supposed to develop five acres of land in Mirpur (to the north-west part of Dhaka) to build an affordable housing complex.

Primarily, the cost was estimated at Tk 3.50 billion which might rise further, NHA sources said.

The developer will design, build, operate and maintain some 11 multi-storey buildings with residential accommodation and ancillary facilities like internal roads, footpath, utilities and landscaping.

The project aimed to ensure availability of affordable housing in a planned and structured manner and reduce acute housing problems for middle-income families.

It also sought to use modern technologies and materials so as to reduce the cost and time for development and construction.

As per the agreement, the government will get 33 per cent of the total 0.9 million square feet.

The government will get 0.3 million square feet and the developer will get the two-third 0.6 million sq ft.

This has raised objections from various quarters, including in the media, regarding the equity sharing process.

Parliamentary standing committee on housing ministry also raised questions regarding the sharing process.

NHA Dhaka Circle superintendent engineer Bijay Kumar Mondal told the FE that they have submitted an explanation on the objections to the ministry.

But the ministry is yet to respond, he mentioned.

"We couldn't hand over the land to the developer due to the objections raised in the media," Mr Mondal said.

"We've explained that the land is low-lying and we're counting the value on 60 per cent of the total land area where the buildings will be constructed."

Primary school, primary healthcare facility, community space, commercial building, kitchen market and lake will on the rest of the land, the engineer added.

The developer will work in two phases-construction of the buildings in maximum eight years and maintenance for 10 years.

Regarding landfill, Mr Bijay said that the land is not in the DAP area and it is a low-lying land.

But Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, said a wetland is a water body that accumulates rainwater for a particular period of a year and also retains the flowing water.

"Not all the wetlands are recorded as water bodies in Bangladesh. They are recorded as lowlands," she told the FE.

According to the Wetland Conservation Act 2000, no one can fill any flood-flow zone, low-lying land, pond, canal or a water body.

To fill any flood-flow zone, any organisation must get approval from Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).

The PPP housing project was first conceived in 2006-07, but it has not been implemented even after 13 years.

NHA has not yet fixed the rate of per square feet space of the apartments. Even the design is yet to be prepared and approved by Rajuk.

When contacted, housing secretary Shahid Ullah Khandker told the FE that the ministry is reviewing the objections and would submit a report soon.

As to whether the project is conflicting with the wetland act, he said the land will not be changed as defined in the DAP.


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