Disarray in flat distribution among wounded freedom fighters

August 23, 2014

The distribution of apartments among freedom fighters wounded during the liberation war – under the Gajnabi Housing Project of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust – has fallen into disarray as many of the apartments are already forcefully occupied before allotment.
The government has allotted 33 out of 84 apartments at the multistory commercial-cum-residential complex on Gajnabi Road in Mohammadpur, although the remaining 51 has already been taken over.
Twelve of the apartments have been taken over by those already allotted a single flat, while the remaining 39 have been taken over by people claiming to be legitimate occupants.
The welfare trust in 2011 took up the project after demolishing three houses that belonged to non-Bengalis, each on 12.5 katha land, at a cost of Tk 67 crore.
Since 1972, the three houses, alongside one which still stands, had housed wounded freedom fighters who had returned from Indian hospitals. Initially, the house had about 90 occupants, which came down to 32, when the project was taken up.
Most of the occupants of the un-allotted flats are former residents.
‘We decided to take possession, without waiting for permission, as the activities of the ministry and welfare trust look very fishy,’ said M Abdul Latif, a former resident of the place and also president of Juddhahato Muktijoddha O Shaheed Muktijuddha Paribar Jatiya Parishad.
Allegedly, a non-resident had been given allotment last January, through an executive order, even before the government called applications for allotment.
Meanwhile, occupants are also unhappy with the size of the apartments.
‘The government promised us 1120 sq feet flats, but the flats measure only 850 sq feet. So I took two flats,’ said Kiamuddin Mollah.
The liberation war affairs ministry has reportedly formed an 11-member committee, comprising of government officials and representatives of the war-wounded freedom fighters, to bring order in the apartment distribution process.
‘We will not force illegal occupants to leave as it may send a wrong message,’ said the minister AKM Mozammel Huq, who visited the place on August 16.
‘But we will convince them through their leaders,’ he added.
The minister said that those who have received allotment from other government housing projects will not be considered for this one.
Those who have obtained war-wounded freedom fighters certification and have been receiving benefits, despite minor injuries during the war, will also not be considered, he added.
After eviction, the remaining flats will be distributed among war-wounded freedom fighters through the application process, said the minister.

-Input from New Age

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