Friday, October 27, 2006

Pakistan:Left Bank Out-fall Drain (LBOD)

Dear Executive Director
The purpose of this communication is draw yourattention to the faulty planning, design andconstruction of the Left Bank Out-fall Drain (LBOD)project in Pakistan and appeal to you to support thecompensation of native and indigenous people of theaffected areas on the lines requested by them. TheWorld Bank Inspection Panel recently completed itsanalysis and has squarely laid blame on the majorprocess, investigation, and implementation failures.The proposed compensation recommendation that ispresented here was formulated in several meetings ofthe local communities and their leaders, including apublic meeting attended by more than a thousandpersons from the affected areas.
The World Bank Inspection Panel report explicitlystates that there were serious violations of WorldBank safe guard policies and the failure of theproject related structures. The LBOD project hascaused serious environmental problems in the lowerregion of the Province of Sindh, Pakistan. The localcommunities have appealed the World Bank to accept thefindings of the Inspection panel and engage in adialogue with the representatives of localcommunities. They petition that instead of embarkingon a long process and financing other projects as acompensatory measure, the World Bank focus on directlyhelping local communities to solve the problem ofeffluent disposal as well as rehabilitation of thedestroyed livelihoods and restoration of theenvironment.
The following is a synopsis of the design and processfailures and as well the catastrophic losses for thelocal communities caused by these failures:
O Significant technical mistakes were made in thedesign of tidal link and choleri weir.
O Designers did not evaluate likelihood that underprevailing meteorological conditions high surfacewater run off from upstream areas that would coincidewith high water levels in the Arabian Sea.
O Under-estimation of risk and lack of appropriatetechnical measures have contributed to suffering oflocal people.
O The effects of the LBOD system on people and theenvironment in lower Sindh are severe.
O The LBOD system, combined with the partialdestruction of tidal link, has heightened risks tolocal people from flooding.
O Increased salinity has affected large tracts ofagriculture land; tidal link failure has led to majorharm to the eco-system, wildlife and fisheries, uponwhich many people depend for their livelihood.
O Neither potential environmental nor the potentialsocial impacts of the project in the area wereconsidered in a meaningful way, until the filing ofthe complaints by local communities.
O Drainage Sector Environmental Assessment (DSEA) wasinsufficient and outdated documents were used tojustify the project design and feasibility.
O Failure to prepare Environmental Management Plan(EMP) for National Drainage Program (NDP) andimplementation of EMP of LBOD were the missedopportunities to mitigate the environmental risks.
O People have suffered great harm and hardship, whichis in significant part a result of these structuresand their failure.
· Project paid little attention to study the impactsand rehabilitation of Dhands (Wetlands).
· O Failure to address technical problems arisen duringthe construction of tidal link.The communities living in the affected coastal area ofthe Badin district, once lived happy and prosperouslife. The disasters caused have had changed theirlives and pushed these communities to deplorableconditions. These people and their leaders have drawna set of measures that they believe would help themreasonably to deal with the LBOD related calamities asfollows:
1. There should be full investigation against thepersons and institutions who designed the faultyproject. There is a need for full accountability ofthe people and institutions for making this heinouscrime against humanity.
2. The entire loan of the project should be convertedinto grant and funds should be spent for the fullreparation of affected communities, environmentalrestoration of the area especially Dhands andrehabilitation of affected people.
3. There must be an honest and independent assessmentof losses occurred during 1999 cyclone and 2003floods. All the people who lost their family members,livestock, suffered crop losses, damage to houses andloss to agriculture land must be properly compensatedwithout any delay.
4. The World Bank, Water And Power DevelopmentAuthority (WAPDA) and other government agencies mustimmediately plan a safe alternative disposal of LBODeffluent. The local communities must be fully involvedand given a leading role in any solution that isagreed.
5. The World Bank and governments of Sindh andPakistan must start the plan for restoration ofenvironment especially the degraded environment ofwetlands.
6. There must be a comprehensive plan for protection,promotion and restoration of livelihood sources suchas agriculture land, livestock, fisheries, grazingareas and forests.
7. For immediate relief and taking people out ofshock, 4000 to 5000 jobs must be created to reducepoverty among the affected families.
8. Model education institutions must be built to bringthe education of this area at par with other areas andalso establish technical skill centers to train theyouth in different skills. Poor students of the areashould be given scholarships for opportunities topursue higher education on a priority basis.
9. The water disposed into Arabian Sea by LBOD systemmust be treated and ensured that it does not pose anythreat to marine life.
10. Government of Sindh should end the contract systemon inland fisheries thus providing opportunities forthe LBOD affected fishing community to earn theirlivelihood.
11. The district of Badin should be given its dueshare of oil and gas royalty from the nearby oil andgas fields. This can help to build the infrastructureand improve the social services for the localpopulation.
12. Right Bank Out-fall Drain will create moredevastation than LBOD, thus government of Sindh andPakistan must shelve the project and find alternativesbased on local or district wise disposal of effluent.
We hope that the World Bank will live up to its motto”Working for a World free of Poverty” by endorsingthe recommendation of the people of local areas anduse its influence the governments of Sindh andPakistan to do the likewise.
Ali Nawaz Memon

Sindh Development Institute

7204 Antares Drive

Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879


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