Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper

Delta Plan needs careful handling

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THE National Economic Council (NEC) approved the Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100 in September, 2018. Undeniably, the plan is a long-term one which hopefully could bring benefit for the next generations but the plan and projects should be sustainable. There is widespread speculation that Bangladesh would be one of the most affected countries due to the impact of climate change. And if the country goes underwater, humanity will be in the stake triggering exodus and internal migration. Amidst this fear, a two-day Delta conference being held in Dhaka engaging all stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of this mega plan.
The Delta plan stipulates that 2.5 per cent of the GDP will be spent every year on projects. In fact, the Delta Plan 2100 is a long-term strategy to prevent floods and soil erosion, manage rivers and wastes, and supply water throughout the century. For that, the government initially would take 80 projects to implement at six 'hotspots' by 2030 at an estimated cost of $37.5 billion in the first phase of the plan. The budget would be increased in the course of time.
That means the country will be spending multi-billion dollars every year on water and land resources, but for which extensive stakeholder meetings with various interest groups have not yet been held. There lies the bottom of the problem. Environmentalists believe that a centrally-planned, top-down programme of this magnitude will not deliver the desired results. If implementation of the plan goes wrong, there might be extensive adverse impact-that could cause collateral damage. The green activists point out that a similar programme was undertaken by the authorities back in the '60s that had resulted in the destruction of around 500 rivers in the name of development.
The need for multi-stakeholder analysis, we believe, is the right thing to do at this moment. Local conditions, climate change-related data and exhaustive analysis by field-level organisations need to be taken under consideration before crafting such a massive programme. Otherwise it would bring no result rather spoil the total money. Since the country has started experiencing the ill-effects of global warming and freak weather events, it needs to incorporate the changes suggested by other parties.

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