Residents of Khurushkul Asrayan Project are in dire need of drinking water
The country's first Special Shelter Project’ styled as ‘Khurushkul Asryan Project’ was built on the bank of the Bankkhali River, just 7 km north of Cox's Bazaar town. The world's largest climate refugee shelter project has accommodated 600 families who lost their homes in the catastrophic cyclone on April 29, 1991.
The inmates of the shelter house include day laborers, dry fish workers, fishermen, mobile goods sellers, rickshaw pullers and van drivers. With the sincerity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the homeless people today own beautiful flats dreaming of turning around in a new way. However, even though the climate refugees found a place to live, they were not assured of safe drinking water. As a result, they are having undrinkable water.
They complained that the water being supplied to the buildings could not even be used due to its salinity. Local toll extortionists obstructed the flow of water from the vicinity of the project, demanding extortion.
Although the government has a plan to bring water from Piemkhali, about 8 km away from the shelter project, the climate refugees do not see any signs of its implementation.
Despite the special sincerity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the residents of the shelter project have no end of grief over the water. Complaints were coming for a long time. A lot of information comes up when you go to the spot. They also described the sadness.
Muhammad Hossain, 37, a resident of Flat No. 302 in Jhinuk Bhaban, said they have been having problems with water since the beginning. Telling the authorities did not work. Going far to the east, one has to fetch drinking water from Manupara.
He said that recently, the scoundrels of the area prevented them from fetching water from there. They stopped the water carrying vans on the way and demanded extortion. That is why 6 members of the family are having a hard time with drinking water.
The same complaint was made by the residents of each flat in 19 buildings. They said that although there was a water supply system in the flat, it was not available when needed. The situation has been fragile for several days. They can't take a bath with line water.
Sirajul Islam lives with his wife and two children in flat number 501 of Jhinuk Bhaban. He runs a small grocery shop at the ground floor of the building. By which the family is running on a low income. But he has complaints about the scarcity of water.
Sirajul Islam said that although some water supply was provided at the beginning, now the situation is critical. You have to buy water for 50 rupees per bottle. In any case, the water used has fallen into disrepair. Bathing, doing ablution for prayer has become very much problematic.
The same allegation was made by Helal Uddin of flat No. 401 of Nilambri Bhaban. He lamented that all their happiness was stuck in the water. A small family of his has to pay more than Tk.1000 a month for 50 rupees a day to procure per bottle of water. But there is no income of Tk.1000 in a whole month.
According to the district administration, a big project worth Tk. 9.72 crore has been undertaken by the Department of Public Health Engineering to provide safe water to the shelter project which includes installation of pump house and water supply line.
In this regard, Ritwik Chowdhury, Executive Engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering, Cox's Bazaar, said that there are two separate proposals for drinking and bath water. More big projects are needed. At present water is being supplied from there by installing shallow pump. An operator has been appointed for this.
He said many people could not use the supply water as it was saline. So many people need to take long-term projects for water.
There are plans to bring water from Piemkhali, 8 km away from the project. Engineer Ritwik Chowdhury thinks that the water problem will be solved if it is implemented.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting was held on the night of October 18 to discuss the problems of the residents of the Khurushkul Special Shelter Project. Representatives of district administration and police administration were present at the meeting. The residents of the flat raised all their problems. They narrated the repressive behavior of the local people to the shelter project inmates.
It is to be mentioned here that the location of the world's largest ‘Khurushkul Special Shelter Project’ is just seven kilometers north of the town of Cox’s Bazaar. On last July 23, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the first phase of 20 buildings through a video conference from Ganobhaban in order to accommodate 600 climate refugee families.
In this project, another 10-storey building is being constructed. The building has been named 'Sheikh Hasina Tower'.
In 2016, work began to expand Cox's Bazaar Airport to international standard. A large amount of government khas land along the west side of the airport, Kutubdiapara, Fadnardale, Nazirartek coast has to be acquired for the construction of runways and other infrastructures. More than four thousand climate refugee families lived there for more than a decade.
In the catastrophic cyclone of April 29, 1991, these homeless people lost their homes in Kutubdia, Maheshkhali, Chakaria, Pekua and other areas of the district and took shelter on the sea shore near the airport.
The Prime Minister came to Cox's Bazaar and announced in a public meeting that no one would be evicted from the government khas land without an alternative.
The Khurushkul Asryan Project was then adopted to rehabilitate at least 20,000 climate refugees from 4,409 families living on acquired government khas land. 253.350 acres of land was acquired in Khurushkul for the project. Work on the project started in 2017.
So far, the construction of 19 five-storey buildings has been completed. Construction of another building is in the final stages. Now 600 families have been allotted flats in these buildings.