A silo full of paddy, cowshed full of cattle and pond full of fishes – all three signs of a well-off farmer can be seen at Char Kalapara, one among the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Guchcho Gram project in Lakshmipur's Ramgati upazila.
After Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established this Guccho Gram in February 1972 each family living in this village received 30 decimals of land for building houses as well as 2.20 acres of land for cultivation. Besides, there is 1.5acre pond for every 10 families.
Apart from markets, educational institutions, mosques, temples, graveyards, and crematoriums, the Guccho Gram project has eight acres of land for agricultural farms.
On Tuesday afternoon, freedom fighter Ekram Uddin, a resident of this Guccho Gram, told The Business Standard that Bangabandhu established this Guchho Gram on his own initiative on 590 acres of land for 200 families affected by the catastrophic cyclone of 1970.
He said that Bangabandhu himself dug into the soil with a spade in the establishment of this village. Before its inauguration, Bangabandhu said that not a single family affected by floods and river erosion will remain homeless.
How are the people of Guchcho Gram?
Sharif Hossain (74), a resident of Guchcho Gram, said that after losing his house in the floods of 1970, he lived in the Beribadh area. He got a unit of 2.5 acres along with Muktijodha Dulal Hossain.
He said, crops grown on 2.2 acres of agricultural land can be sold even after meeting the family's needs throughout the year. "As there is enough space in the house, we can rear cattle and plant trees."
"The earnings from the 1.5 acre pond is sufficient for 10 families. Each gets more than Tk50,000 annually," he said, adding that everyone in this village is happy.
Ashrayan Project started from Char Kalagachi
After the victory in the liberation war on December 16, 1971, the people of the country were excited about the joy of being citizens of the new state. But the people of the southern region of the country were still carrying the grief of losing five lakh people in the previous year's disastrous cyclone.
In addition to restoring the war-torn economy, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman faced a major challenge in arranging shelter for people who lost their homes due to natural calamities.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman prioritised the issue of rehabilitation of disaster affected people and made his first out of Dhaka tour to Ramgati Upazila of Lakshmipur district (then Noakhali) within 40 days of his arrival in country from Pakistani incarceration, and allotted 2.5 acres of land to each of 210 homeless families.
The 510-acre shelter inaugurated by Bangabandhu in Char Kalapara village of Char Poradah Union has become a model project across the country.
Since then almost every government has been providing housing for the landless and homeless in the way shown by Bangabandhu.
Sufficient initiatives to provide common facilities
There are provisions of several common facilities in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Guccho Gram out of 2.5 acres of land for each family. Twenty-five acres of land have been allotted for ponds while eight acres are for firms. Land has been identified for mosque, temple, school, college, madrasa, market, cattle grazing land and some other purposes.
Initiative to commemorate the first shelter projects in Bangladesh
The government has taken an initiative to set up a monument to commemorate the first shelter project in Bangladesh established by Bangabandhu.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) of Lakshmipur district Nure Alam said the government has taken the initiative to preserve the memory of Bangabandhu at the place.
To preserve the memory, he informed, a monument, a children's park, two markets and 28 houses are being constructed at a cost of around Taka 8.50 crore.
It is reported that the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, arrived by helicopter on the morning of 20 February 1972. He then inaugurated the road construction work by cutting the soil with a spade after a short speech.