With four kids, Rangpur businessman Kamruzzaman now lives with his 30-member extended family. After deciding to move out and dwell separately, he recently has applied for a flat in the Palli Janapad Housing Complex – a multi-storey public housing project with modern facilities and farming arrangements aimed at saving the country's arable land.
"I could have bought a plot to build my house. But I preferred booking an apartment in the project since it has all the basic amenities such as gas, water and electricity, plus modern arrangements for cattle rearing and farming," said the businessman.
The 1,383.82 square feet flat with three bedrooms, a common living and dining area, two toilets, veranda, a service area and some open space cost Kamruzzaman Tk14.85 lakh. He has paid a 30% down payment of the price and will pay the remaining in instalments over 15 years.
In 2014, the government initiated the housing project for rural areas to save agri-land across the country. As part of the project, three pilots are going on in Rangpur Sadar, Bogura's Shahjahanpur and Gopalganj Sadar. The Rural Development Academy (RDA) under the Rural Development and Cooperatives Division is implementing the Tk247 crore piloting work.
In the Rangpur project, 246 people have already applied with the down payments for the apartments so far.
The Rangpur Housing Complex spanning on four acres of land is just five kilometres from the city's Zero Point, and it will have 272 apartments on three-story buildings.
There will also be two-storey farming sheds in which the residents will be able to rear poultry and livestock. The complex will also have storage facilities for agri-products, safe water supply, solar power and biogas.
"Around 95% of the construction has already been completed and likely to be inaugurated by the prime minister in October," Delwar Hossain, director of the Palli Janapad Project, told The Business Standard. Flats will be handed over to the applicants after the inauguration.
"The main objective of the project is to save the country's arable land, which is declining by 1% every year," said Delwar.
Dr Rubayet-ul-Islam, who lives in Rangpur city, had applied for an apartment but was losing interest. Now he is happy that the project is about to be completed soon and said he would pay the down payment amount next month to confirm his application.
The Bogura housing complex on 5.67 acres of land has progressed 50% while the 4.26-acre Gopalganj project has seen 30% work progress.
Officials said people from any district can apply for these flats, but the allocation will prioritise people who gave land for the project, locals, freedom fighters and remittance-earners.
Four types of apartment
The three-storey buildings in the Palli Janapad Complex will have four types of apartments, according to the project authorities.
The largest Type-A flats will be 1,383.62 square feet, while the smallest Type-D ones will be 552 square feet. The other two types – B and C – will be 1,073.79 square feet and 695.69 square feet respectively.
The price of a Type-D flat will be Tk5.85 lakh, Type-C flat Tk7.38 lakh, Type-B flat Tk11.38 lakh and Type-A flat Tk14.85 lakh.
PM instructs officials to discuss with the beneficiaries
The piloting of the housing project was supposed to take place in all seven divisions. But the plans for Khulna, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and Barishal were shelved, slashing the estimated cost from Tk424 crore to Tk247 crore.
Project officials said the implementation and the outcome of the work in Rangpur, Bogura and Gopalganj would decide whether the complexes would be built in the four regions.
The officials said the prime minister has instructed them to consult with the beneficiaries in Rangpur, Bogura and Gopalganj to construct the remaining four rural complexes.
Tofail Ahmed, a local government specialist who was involved in the project at the initial phase, told TBS that the project aiming at saving arable land is an appreciable measure.
"If the project gets the desired outputs, the pressure on agri-land will be reduced. But to make the project a success, the flat prices should be lower. The government cannot do business here," he noted.
"The apartment size is also an important issue. If the flats are too small, people will not be interested. If the buildings are constructed as per the demand of the villagers, the project will attract more customers," he added.
Meanwhile, people called upon the project officials to run more campaigns to attract the clients.
However, the RDA officials said they published advertisements on national dailies and in televisions about the Palli Janpad Complex. Besides, the RDA official website also has the required information.