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Socio-Environmental Impacts of Large Projects in Drainage Sector. Naseer Memon. Cultivable command area (CCA) is about 12.8 million acres. More than 95% of the irrigation is from canal water. The irrigation system comprises of 3 Barrages 14 canals

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irrigation in sindh

Cultivable command area (CCA) is about 12.8 million acres.

  • More than 95% of the irrigation is from canal water.
  • The irrigation system comprises of
    • 3 Barrages
    • 14 canals
    • 1,462 branch canals/distributaries/minors
    • More than 40,000 water courses

Irrigation in Sindh

water logging and salinity

Sindh has serious problems of water logging and salinity due to

    • flat topography
    • inadequate salt exit
    • traditional watering of crops
    • late implementation of drainage programme
  • In 1999, the waterlogged area was 5.434 million acres out of the total CCA of 12.815 million acres in Sindh.

Water Logging And Salinity

left bank outfall drain lbod

The LBOD project commenced in 1984

  • The Stage-1 of LBOD project was aimed to benefit 0.35 million Culturable Command Areain Nawabshah, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas (map).
  • Project started with initial estimate of 8.5 billion rupees which ended up with over 31 billion rupees.
  • IDA and ADB were the major donors of the project.

Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD)

left bank outfall drain lbod1

District of Badin was used as conduit for the Spinal Drain of the project for ultimate disposal to the Arabian Sea through a 42 kms long Tidal Link Canal.

  • The major challenge for the project designers was to provide safe disposal of effluent to sea.
  • Outfall was designed and executed without proper consultation with stakeholders and their concerns were also not considered

Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD)

outfall options

Most viable option of Shakoor lake was rejected due to political pretext

  • it was decided to transport the effluent to sea through a natural lake complex of very high ecological significance.
  • Two of the four lakes Nureri and Jubbo were recognized as Ramsar sites.
  • The lake eco-system, also supported livelihood for about 15,000 fishermen from about 40 villages
  • An embankment with a 4.5 ft high and 1800 ft wide Cholri weir was provided to maintain water level in lakes

Outfall Options

the disaster

Cholri Weir collapsed during the night of 24th June 1998

  • Authorities made cosmetic efforts to repair the weir but within 4 months the breach became 450 ft wide from southern side and authorities capitulated.
  • It unleashed an unprecedented environmental havoc on fragile lake system converting them in saline sink.
  • At one stage salinity of Pateji dhand was measured as horribly high at 68,000 ppm previously measured at 15,000 ppm.

The Disaster

the disaster1

A disastrous cyclone lashed the area on 21 May 1999.

  • It caused 54 breaches in the embankment of the tidal link rendering it completely irreparable.
  • The breached structure unleashed an unprecedented disaster on nearby settlements of fishermen communities and according to official figures about 75 people died in Badeen
  • Tidal Link became dead and sea water found a regular inlet to lake system
  • Local drains started backflow destroying land and aquifer in Badeen

The Disaster

causes of failure

In 1983 when project was at preparation stage soil samples analyzed along the Tidal link show stiff cohesive clay with 85% silt content.

  • At design stage soil testing carried out by Foundation Engineering Ltd. depict the soil with much smaller silt and clay, frictionless cohesive soil.
  • In spite of knowing that the soil in the channel bed is not sufficiently cohesive, no protection was provided at the bed of Cholri Weir, which was exposed to active erosion during tidal fluctuation.

Causes of Failure

causes of failure1

Outfall system was designed without proper consultation with stakeholders specially local communities and fishermen

  • Tidal Link was constructed against wind direction which reinforced wave impact
  • Proper environmental and socio-economic studies were not conducted
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for LBOD was carried out in 1989, which was not very comprehensive, limited only to biological aspects ignoring socio-economic and cultural aspects.

Causes of Failure

the inspection panel

A group of affectees and an NGO Action Aid Pakistan approached World Bank’s Inspection Panel on 10th September 2004.

  • After investigating the issue, the Panel submitted its report on 6th July 2006
  • The WB responded in Nov 2006 and chalked out a Plan of Action

The Inspection Panel

the inspection panel findings

Serious flaws were detected at key stages of the project i.e. planning, designing, execution, supervision and monitoring.

  • The decision of the Bank to categorize the Project as “Category B,” rather than “Category A was not appropriate.
  • Project documents did not assess how the Project might affect wetlands or identify required mitigation measures at the critical stage of Project design and appraisal.
  • The Bank did not comply with policy provisions on consultation and participation of affectees

The Inspection Panel Findings

the inspection panel findings1

The selected alignment for the Tidal Link was politically attractive, however technically and environmentally risky

  • There were no provisions for an emergency closure of the Tidal Link. No facilities were in place to warn the population and mitigate flood impact. There were no fail-safe provisions in the design
  • As a result of shortcomings in the Environmental Assessment, decision making on environmentally-crucial elements under the Project became less systematic, less informed and more ad hoc.

The Inspection Panel Findings

future outlook

The Bank has developed an Action Plan in response to the Inspection Plan. No stakeholder consultation was carried out while developing this action plan.

  • The Bank wants to compensate affectees through two project i.e. Coastal Area Development Program (CADP) and Water Sector Improvement Project (WISP).
  • Both CADP and WSIP are financed under loans of World Bank respectively of US$ 90 million and US$ 140 million. Hence it is not compensation but an additional loan

Future Outlook