For years, a fear of eviction chased labourer Md Anis as he had been living as an illegal occupant at a khas land once owned by zamindars of Manikganj.
"Our forefathers served Zamindars who let us live here. As their servants, we never dare to ask them to give us the ownership of the lands. When they left, the government took the property and we became illegal residents," he said.
Standing in front of his newly built house in Teota Union under Shibalay Upazila of Manikganj, Septuagenarian Anis said, "The fear has gone for good. I'm so grateful to the government."
Beside Anis, 23 more homeless families have been given homes in Teota under the government's Ashrayan-2 project.
A total of 53,340 homes are being given under the project to the homeless and landless families of 459 upazilas of the country, said additional secretary and project director of Ashrayan-2 Project Mahbub Hossain.
The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally hand over the homes on June 20.
Meanwhile, PM's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus yesterday at a press conference in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that about one lakh more houses will be given by December as part of the government's move to rehabilitate the country's homeless people in the Mujib Year.
The government in January gave 69,904 houses to homeless people in January.
Visiting Manikganj on June 9, the correspondent found the homes ready for living.
Off-white and semi-pucca houses are standing in queues in the backyard of Teota Union Parishad office and a few meters away from abandoned antique buildings of lost zamindars.
Each house containing two rooms, toilet, kitchen and veranda are sheded with red colour tin.
Smiles were written all over the faces of people who have got new homes.
Out of excitement, Parul, in her 70s, was showing her new house to journalists enthusiastically.
"My husband died a long time ago...I worked at people's houses as a maid," said Parul, adding that she had been living in a shanty on government land.
"Now I got a permanent roof above my head. I'm very happy. I'll now die happily," she said.
The government has spent about Tk 2 lakh to build each house, said additional secretary and project director of Ashrayan-2 Project Mahbub Hossain.
The 2nd phase is financed by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and Ashrayan-2 project and is being coordinated by the Prime Minister's Office, he said.
In two phases the government has given 1,23,244 homes to homeless people, he said, adding that about Tk 2,300 crore was spent for the project.
The government allocated 64 homes in Kathaltola Bazar of Dumuria of Khulna where people have already started living.
Another 45 new homes have been built in the 2nd phase.
Visiting the spot, the correspondent found construction work was going on in full swing.
Residents who have already started living expressed their gratitude to the Prime Minister.
One of them van puller Kazi Shahidul Islam said he along with his wife used to live beside the Dumuria highway before getting allotment.
"I'm living peacefully here with my wife and sons," he said.
Locals however expressed concern over drinking water as only four tube-wells set up for 109 families of the project area.
Contacted UNO of Dumuria Abdul Wadud said they have already set up four deep tube-wells for the residents.
"We've given requisition for more tube-wells. Our aim is to provide tube-wells for each ten families," he said.
Saying that the Prime Minister continues rehabilitating the homeless and landless people even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Kaikaus said, "It is the Sheikh Hasina's model for inclusive development."
The Principal Secretary said each family is getting the assets worth some Tk 2.6 lakh, if the value of two-decimal land is on average Tk 50,000. The construction cost of every house is nearly Tk 2 lakh, while the cost of utility connectivity (electricity and gas) is some Tk 10,000.
Mentioning that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had undertaken the Ashrayan project in 1997, Dr Kaikaus said a total of 373,562 houses have so far been given to homeless and landless families under Ashrayan project run by the PMO.
On Sunday next, the highest 12,436 houses will be given in Rangpur division, while 10,547 in Chattogram, 7,630 in Dhaka, 7,172 in Rajshahi, 37,153 in Barishal, 911 in Khulna, 2512 in Mymensingh and 1979 in Sylhet division.
According to the lists prepared under the Ashrayan project, the number of homeless and landless families (under class-K) is 293,361 in the country, while that of just-homeless families (under class-Kha) is 592,261.