Government’s Initiative Sought to Reduce the Dalit and Excluded Community’s Housing Problem

In the arrival of the World Habitat Day 2011, Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement (BDERM) with the cooperation of Nagorik Uddyog organised a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity at 10:30 am on 02 October 2011 to demand government’s initiative in reducing dalit and excluded community’s housing problem. In the press conference, the leaders of dalit and excluded community ask government to make housing policy & take effective initiative to reduce the extreme housing problem of 5.5 million dalit and excluded people in Bangladesh. The secretary of BDERM, Bothanki Solomon presents the keynote paper and chairperson of BDERM, Mukul Sikder presides over the press conference meeting.

In the keynote paper presentation, Bothanki Solomon says, the most of the dalit people of about 5.5 million in Bangladesh live in an 8/10 feet house with three generation together, father-mother, brother-sister and son-daughter. The most of the people of our community live in the City Corporation and municipality’s colonies. They have to face extreme housing crisis besides sanitation and water problem. For this reason, the dalit children can not grow up physically well and their mental growth & personality is greatly hampered. Moreover, the dalit people can not rent house to live because they are dalit and untouchable. The dalit people who live in the villages, their conditions are also about the same. Bothanki Soloman has lifted up four demands to the government in reducing the housing crisis of Dalits is as follows:

1. To make housing policy for the dalit people and working strategy of it.

2. To make house and allot those to the dalit people permanently. The government’s Khas land will be allotted to the dalit. Besides, dalit colony eviction has to be stopped.

3. To construct the colonies prevailing in the city areas. To improve the sanitation and water facilities in every dalit colony and ensure gas and electricity supply.

4. According to the 15 article of the Constitution, housing is described as the basic needs. To ensure the housing facility, government should allot land among the landless dalit people after land reformed by the related division.

In the press conference, the resident of Tikatuli city colony, B. Apparaw informs that when the four six-storied building was constructing in their colony they went to scrutinize the constructing work but the higher level government officer did not hear them. They could not question against those officers. In that situation one of the six-storied buildings was collapsed in the constructing time. The rest three building is still in empty because the BUET team identified those as risking. So, no one of the colony dare to live in those buildings.
The chairperson of Dalit Women Forum, Moni Rani Das says, “Animal has well keeping system in the zoo. But the government is not making any suitable housing for the dalits. We, the dalit people are living in a more miserable condition than the animal. Sanitation and water crisis is prevailing along with housing in our colony which should be resolved. We demand to the government to solve this entire problem as soon as possible.”

In the press conference, Architect Salma A. Shafi says, “The lands of Dhaka City Dalit Colony’s is enough to build suitable housing for the dalit people if proper planning can be taken. If government wants then we can help to make plan and design from BDERM and Nagorik Uddyog.” She also says that she will work with dalit housing issue with BDERM.

The Chief Executive of Nagorik Uddyog, Zakir Hossain speaks that there are about 5.5 million dalit people in Bangladesh, the most of them are landless and live in the colony without any deeds. So, they have no permanent address. He speaks to allot house for dalit people to construct building on the Khas land & city corporation colony. Government allotted 10 crore taka in the national budget for the housing development of the dalit people. We have to know how this money will be used for. He says that we have learned from B. Apparaw that the low materials using caused the Tikatuli building collapse. So we have to scrutinize the construction of the dalit housing so that it will be build properly and maintained standard. Society and government officers do not consider this community people as human being. They do not give their rights. They have to come out from such mentality and take initiative so that the dalit people can not deprived from their rights.

The chairperson of BDERM Mukul Sikdar says, The ministers and governments officers come out gorgeous rally to observe the World Habitat Day. But they are not working to ensure housing for the houseless & landless dalits and excluded people. We are demanding to the government to take effective initiative immediately in removing the housing problem of the dalit community people. He also says that if necessary we will continue our movement & campaign to achieve our rights. He also says that government allotted 10 crore taka in the national budget for the housing of the dalit people but we do not know is any project taken or not in this side. We demand to the government to take immediate initiative of this money in constructing house for the dalit people. Finally, he closes up the press conference meeting in thanking the journalists and participants.