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Bangladesh - June 26, 2023

Jhilmil project uncertain

Malaysian cos asks to increase cost by Tk 3,500 cr

Mahfuz Emran: To solve the capital’s housing problem, the Capital Development Authority (RAJUK) took the initiative to construct a Jhilmil residential project on 480 bigha land in Keraniganj. The main objective of the project was to build affordable flats for the lower middle class.
For this reason, Rajuk had an agreement with a Malaysian company called BNG Global Holdings and Consortium. Although the price fixed in the contract and the calculation of the newly claimed amount of the Malaysian company can be seen, the price of even the smallest flat in this housing project for the lower middle class will be close to Tk 1.5 million.
According to the information of the related documents, a total of 85 buildings are supposed to be constructed in this project of Tk 9,979.20 crore. There will be 13,720 flats in three categories. According to the contract, the price per square feet is fixed at Tk 5,600. According to this, the price of a flat of minimum 1,400 square feet is about Tk 80 lakh, including the cost of registry, which is worth Tk one crore.
Six years after the agreement signed in 2017, the foreign company named BNG Global has not started working yet. According to Rajuk sources, the company has recently demanded another Tk 3,500 crore for starting new work. As an argument, the company is bringing forward the increase in the price of construction materials in the current market.
The matter is being scrutinized by those concerned.
However, if the demanded money is given to BNG, the minimum price of the flats to be built for the lower middle class will be reduced to Tk 1.5 million.
Alamgir Shamsul Alamin, president of Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB), commented that the price of housing in government projects should be within the affordability of the lower middle class.
He said, a lower middle class can buy a flat for a maximum of Tk 10-15 lakh and a middle class for Tk 50-60 lakh, that too in installments. But the price of Rajuk’s flat is Tk 1 crore toTk 1.5 crore. By no means is it desirable. Rajuk should sell flats at lower prices to the lower middle and middle class, albeit subsidized. As a government institution, RAJUK should serve the people.
It is not the government’s job to do business with fundamental rights. Therefore, flats of Tk 1.5 crore in the name of lower middle class in Jhilmil and Uttara are not acceptable in any way. So those flats are and will be bought by the elite.
It is alleged that the businessmen of the housing sector are opposing the construction of flats at low prices in Jhilmil. When asked about this, Rehab president said, “Of course we do not want flats to be sold at low prices in Jhilmil or Uttara.” Then my business will decrease. We businessmen do not want the government to sit? Will not solve the problem of public housing?
The government is now selling flats at the price of private companies. A flat can be built by the government with Tk 1 crore. Subsidy should also be given while selling it to the lower middle class and middle class. We business people would naturally not be in favor of this. So, the government itself will sell flats in the name of the lower middle class for Tk 15 lakh?
According to the agreement with the Malaysian company for the construction of flats in the Jhilmil residential area built on the banks of the Buriganga river in Keraniganj, 85 buildings are to be built on 480 bigha or 160 acres of land. Out of this, 25 storey buildings with 60 cm basement and 25 storey buildings with basement will be constructed. These buildings will have a total of 13,720 flats in three categories.
There will be 9,120 ‘A’ class flats of 1,400 square feet, 2,576 of ‘B’ class 1,750 square feet and 2,024 flats of ‘C’ class 2,400 square feet.
The price of these flats to be built in Jhilmil has been fixed at Tk 5,600 per square foot. As such, the smallest flat, including the 18 percent registration cost, will also cost more than Tk 1 crore. The cost of implementation of the project has been estimated at Tk 9,979.20 crore. If Rajuk accepts the demand of BNG Global to pay another Tk 3,500 crore, the price of the flat will be reduced by Tk 15 lakh.
When asked about this, architect Iqbal Habib said, in the latest DAP, Rajuk has fixed a measure of housing for the lower middle class of 720 to 800 square feet flats. If flats of this size are built, the DAP has said that incentives will be given in terms of height. It is Rajuk who again constructs flats of 1500, 2500 square feet for the lower middle class in Jhilmil and Uttara – what can be said other than their self-contradictory policy and blatant fraud?
A flat in Jhilmil will cost more than Tk 1 crore. In Uttara, lower middle-class flats are being sold for Tk 1.5 crore, it is not within their affordability. If Rajuk can consider increasing the budget by another Tk 3,500 crore, then surely it can also correct the issue of flat design.
Adil Muhammad Khan, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Department of Jahangirnagar University, thinks that this is happening again and again due to the lack of accountability in Rajuk’s work. He said, “Rajuk makes such mistakes on purpose.” Initially they keep flat size 800-1000 square feet.
After approval, it doubled-tripled its size. Same happened with Jhilmil. It shouldn’t be at all. We demand that the re-design of Jhilmil housing project should be started as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Waheed Sadiq, Director of Jhilmil Housing Project, refused to comment when asked about the price of flats. He advised to contact Rajuk chairman in this regard. However, Rajuk Chairman Md. Anishur Rahman Mia called several times and sent short messages, could not be contacted.
Kazi Washi Uddin, secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, said, “Everything is expensive in the current market. Therefore, Tk 3,500 crore have been requested from the company. After verifying the matter, it will be decided how much money can be increased.

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