DoGA, under the housing and public works ministry, allots flats for government officials. The government officials were seen swarming the directorate office on 30 and 31 October.

Officials of BCS admin, police, agriculture and other cadres were seen coming to the DoGA office with applications to get flats allotted in the area of their choice. Class three and four officers were also seen in the office. All of them were seeking flats in Motijheel, Eskaton and Azimpur areas and none wanted flats in Mirpur.

The government officials show ‘three reasons’ for their apathy towards flats in Mirpur. Firstly, the distance from the office. Secondly, lack of quality educational institutions in the area and thirdly a big portion of their salaries would be spent on house rent. They prefer renting houses near their offices.

An official of DoGA on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that no study was conducted before constructing buildings in the Mirpur area. No discussions were held prior to the construction as to whether the officials would use flats in that area. Wishes of the high officials of the public works ministry were prioritized in constructing these buildings.  Also, the buildings outside Dhaka were constructed at the will of officials without taking any opinion of the DoGA.

Asked, DoGA’s director (joint secretary) Shahidul Islam told Prothom Alo, “We are repeatedly giving notices to officials to get on the vacant flats in Mirpur but not getting any response. The officials prefer Eskaton, Motijheel and Azimpur areas over Mirpur citing the distance. We are seeking ways to utilize these flats in Mirpur.”

According to DoGA, a total of 1100 applications have been submitted for allotment in Motijheel, Azimpur and Eskatan areas.

Five buildings often remain vacant

The distance between Mirpur and the secretariat is around 13 kilometres. The construction of ten 14-storied buildings on 10 acres of land in the Kather Karkhana area was completed in 2019. Of these, 5 buildings consisting of 592 flats of 1500 square feet were constructed for deputy secretaries and equivalent officers. 472 flats (1200 square feet each) were constructed in five other buildings for senior assistant secretary-level officials.

Field visits on 29 August and 27 October revealed that no one entered one of the five buildings made for deputy secretary-level officials. A total of 71 families have entered four other buildings. Many flats of the senior secretaries are also vacant.

Six buildings in Shialbari remain vacant

In the Shialbari area of Mirpur-6, three 14-storied buildings consisting of 1,500 square feet flats were constructed for deputy secretary-rank officials. The remaining three buildings consisting of 1,200 square feet flats were constructed for senior assistant secretary-level officials.  Another 4-storied building was constructed as a multipurpose hall. Construction of the project was completed last June.

DoGA officials said the deputy secretary and senior assistant secretaries are not interested to live in these buildings. So it is considered whether these buildings can be allotted to ninth-grade officials relaxing the conditions.

Executive engineer of the public works ministry Saifuzzaman told Prothom Alo that they would soon take over the buildings from the contractors and anyone interested can enter the flats within December.

Nine buildings remain vacant in Noakhali Sadar

The construction of nine buildings in Noakhali’s Maijdee area was completed in June. The size of these flats ranges from 650 to 1250 square feet.

Executive engineer of district Saad Mohammad Andalib said the contractor handed over the buildings to the public works ministry in June but no government officials have applied for allotment of flats in these buildings yet.

He, however, hopes to get a good response once a call for the application of allotment is announced in December.

Noakhali Science and Technology University’s business administration department’s associate professor Abdul Quayum told Prothom Alo the authorities should have taken the opinions of locals before constructing these buildings for the government officials. The house rent in the city area is comparatively less than in that area.

He also said a total of 324 flats were constructed in Noakhali and it should have been considered whether the Noakhali Sadar has so many government officials-employees.

The distance between Narayanganj’s Aliganj from the secretariat is 15 kilometers. A total of six buildings, 14-storied each, were constructed in the area. These flats, ranging from 800 to 1250 square feet, still remain vacant.

Several officials of DoGA said the authorities did not seek their opinion before constructing the buildings in Aliganj.

Institute for Planning and Development’s (IPD) executive director Adil Mohammed Khan told Prothom Alo that the authorities did not carry out any detailed feasibility study before taking any government housing project. Many buildings were constructed at will. As a result, these buildings remain unused.

He said not only about the waste of money but the standard of these buildings is also compromised.

Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman told Prothom Alo that government officials must abide by the government decision as the buildings are already constructed. And these buildings cannot remain vacant if the officials do not want to reside there.

He said many class three and four employees are in dire need of accommodation and these flats can be allotted to them by making new policy.