Parliamentary body to probe housing scheme approvals

A parliamentary body has alleged that the government recently approved half a dozen private housing schemes without adhering to rules.

The parliamentary standing committee on the housing ministry formed a five-member sub-committee yesterday to probe the entire approval process, Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury, a member of the committee, said after a meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban. “We are not convinced about the documents that Rajuk gave us. The documents on the approval process show that there have been some anomalies.”

Housing ministry favours land grabbers, amends rules secretly

The sub-committee, led by Awami League lawmaker Asaduzzaman Khan, has been asked to submit its report to the parliamentary watchdog in a month.

A committee, led by the state minister for housing, gave its nod to BDDL Natundhara and United City in early May, Swarnali Abashan and Green Model Town in early August and Ashiyan City and Bashundhara of East West Property Development in late September on recommendations by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).

The ministry gave the approval by flouting its own rules. And the High Court had already declared those housing schemes illegal.

According to the private housing land development rules, 2004, developers were required to apply for approval within six months of the rules coming into effect in 2004.

But, instead, they illegally continued destroying wetlands, croplands and rural homesteads on the capital’s eastern fringe and gave out advertisements for selling plots.

In June last year, the HC declared these six schemes illegal along with more than 70 schemes.

Meanwhile, five organisations served a legal notice on the government asking for an explanation for approval given to Ashiyan City.

According to Dhaka district administration records, Bashundhara submitted a 1,435-acre layout (A-L blocks), of which it owns 1,213 acres. The proposed area includes 234 acres of government land, including river and canal.

Ashiyan City has got approved a 43-acre layout, but its proposed site is many times larger, according to official findings.

A probe by an executive magistrate found that Ashiyan has ruined biodiversity and ecology by filling up low-lying wetlands, including Ashkona-Kaola canal, croplands and rural homesteads, according to documents obtained by The Daily Star.

According to the findings of the Assistant Commissioner (land) office, Ashiyan has filled up and changed the character of at least 230 acres of land, including nearly two acres of government land, in Dakshinkhan and Barua moujas without any permission.

In November last year, the Department of Environment fined Ashiyan Lands Development Ltd Tk 50 lakh for destroying low-lying wetlands, floodplains, aquatic life and ecology on the capital’s north-eastern fringe.

DC office records show that Swarnali Abashan owns 75 acres of land but it has had a much larger area marked off. BDDL Natundhara owns 173 acres of its proposed site of 360 acres. The area includes six acres of government land and two acres of vested property.

United City owns 122 acres of its proposed 137-acre project area that includes nearly 10 acres of vested property and 30 decimals of government land.

Green Model Town submitted a 149-acre layout for approval. Of the total area, it owns 130 acres.

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