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LBOD project in Southern Pakistan is a social and ecological disaster - ’People’s Tribunals’ of 2008 and 2007

A compilation of reports from media and from the citizens movement

by sacw.net, 11 November 2008

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The News, November 2, 2008

Stakeholders raise voice against LBOD project in ‘People’s Tribunal’

November 02, 2008
- By Jan Khaskheli

KARACHI: It was a unique event in which hundreds of women carrying babies, gathered under a wide area covered by tents to raise their voice against the project, which has almost destroyed their livelihood source for generations. Belonging to fishermen, farmers and herdsmen families, the ordinary stakeholders participated in the programme to show their anger against the World Bank-funded project Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD).

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum convened a Peoples Tribunal, comprising Retired Justice Rashid A Rizvi, Karamat Ali, Director Piler and Jami Chandio, the head of Center for Peace and Civil Society (CPCS), recently outside Badin Town.

Stakeholders, water experts, victims, government officials and non-government organizations representatives participated in the Tribunal.

Laung Mallah, 50, a victim of the project, describing his plight said he never imagined about what hundreds of the fishermen families are facing at the natural lake ‘Narreri’, internationally recognized Ramsar site, touching Badin and Thatta districts in Sindh province.

The Narreri Lake linked to the sea receives poisonous water through the LBOD and other drains. LBOD collects excess irrigation water, saline seepage, pump saline groundwater, rainfall runoff and industrial and municipal wastewater, ending into the sea at Zero Point, Badin District and polluting fresh water lakes near there. Jhubo Lake, also declared Ramsar Site has been destroyed after 1999 Cyclone and now it is no more the attractive for marine life, birds and fishermen.

“About 10 years ago we were spending a happy life, with more catch of fish, hunting migratory birds and taking water vegetables at the lake. But now not only fish is dying by poisonous wastewater but no vegetables are there. Migratory birds do not visit the lake, which is dying gradually due to receiving waste of sugar mills, agriculture, municipal institutions, forcing hundreds of families to migrate.

“We are unable to catch more fish from the lake, as it has been turned into poisonous. Women travel several miles to fetch water from neighboring areas for domestic use,” Mallah said.

Siddiq Mallah, 55, belonging to Mehar Dandal village, located at Narreri Lake said floods in monsoons and high tides in the sea, breaching in the LBOD and other linked drains had put the lives of hundreds of families at stake. They have lost loved ones, along with the boats, fishing nets, shelters and cattle heads in the past incidents. Therefore, they have been living under fear that they may face similar incidents in future.

Local grower Natho Khan, 70, said there were more wildlife, fish and plants species which have disappeared due to receding fresh water in the River Indus and its tributaries, inundating fertile land. He called the LBOD project as disastrous, which has caused displacement of the communities.

Iqbal Haider, head of the Laar Humanitarian Development Organisation quoting history told The News that Karo Goongro canal, carrying rainwater and irrigation water was to feed the Shakoor Lake, comprising 300sq km— sharing water with India. About 96sq km of the Lake comes under Pakistan while major part of the lake comes under the Indian part.

Narreri, Kandri, Jhubo, Sanhro and Mahro lakes, all declared wetland centers, have become poisonous, depriving hundreds of families of their source of livelihoods, Haider pointed out.

LBOD aimed to drain out saline water and storm runoff, from 127 million acres of land in three districts Nawabshah, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas of Sindh Province to alleviate water logging and salinity.

LBOD project was to bring drainage effluents from the upstream and dispose it of into the Arabian Sea, via the Tidal Link Canal. However, due to some technical problems the drainage effluents instead of going into the sea started destroying lands and internationally recognized wetlands.

Prof Shahab Mughal, Researcher and teaching in Mehran University of Engineering and Technology said the project induced problems like flooding, sea intrusion, loss of crops and agriculture land, reduction in fish catch and loss of lives but nobody cared to overcome these faults. Mughal told The News that the National Drainage Programme (NDP) consisted of 1673 drainage wells, 361 scavenger wells, 1623km surface drains, 1500km tile drains, 295km interceptor drains, 2700km electrical distribution lines, remodeling of 470km canals and Chotiary Reservoir with storage capacity of 0.70 million acre feet (maf).

He said the WB had ordered an inquiry into alleged violations of its policy guidelines in implementation of Pakistan’s LBOD project and NDP that caused large scale loss to the people, ecological system and agriculture in Badin and adjoining coastal areas of the province.

Wapda General Manager Ghulam Ali Soomro negating the version of the affected families and water experts and civil society members said there was no any fault in the feasibility of the project. He justified the feasibility of the project saying had LBOD not been established the wide area of the district Badin would have inundated into the salinity and sea intrusion.

It was the LBOD that has protected the life and source of livelihood of hundreds of families residing in the area.

The salinity was increasing that might have caused wide destruction and displacement of the communities, deriving their livelihood there.

Soomro said the Pakistan government is negotiating with the Indian authorities to release the waste through drains into the major Shakoor Lake.

Because, he said earlier the neighbouring country’s government took objection over the release of effluent into the lake sharing water with India. He was optimistic about the project, saying they are redesigning it (project) to avoid such losses in future.

He contradicted the point raised by experts and said: “if it is true that the agriculture has been destroyed and lands inundated in the area due to LBOD why the number of sugar mills has increased from four earlier to seven at present?”

The government officials reveal that when the project was being designed there was sufficient irrigation water and more torrential rains, feeding natural lakes and was prosperous for marine life.

Retired Justice Rashid A Rizvi announcing the verdict in the light of public reaction, experts viewpoint and official response, said “planning of the LBOD has failed. Therefore, there should be an independent commission to assess the losses faced by the community, environment, ecology and marine life in the entire affected area.”

He said there should be initiated a mega rehabilitation programme for the affected community, ecology and ensure it’s proper implementation. In this regard, he suggested to compensate the affected communities and the loss of environment. Apart from this he said the government should block the Tidal Link, which is responsible to this human loss and environmental degradation. The Jury head also urged the Sindh Coastal Development Authority to focus on the people of Indus Delta, affected by this mega project. He said in future the government should ensure participation of all the stakeholders before designing any project so that it can avoid losses to the life and livelihood of the community.

He responding the official version pointed out that if the feasibility of the project was right and fault-free why the government is redesigning the same project. It proves that there was a defect, which caused this problem, destroyed sources of livelihoods and creating uncertainty among the locals.

Dawn, 6 November 2008

Editorial

LBOD: victim of flawed planning

The World Bank has offered a new action plan to Pakistan to mitigate the adverse fallout of the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) project on wetland fisheries habitats, resulting in great suffering for the people of Badin and Thatta districts in Sindh. Because of bad planning, designing, monitoring and execution, the project has proved to be an engineering, environmental, human and socio-economic disaster. As the World Bank president says, everyone could have done a better job in mitigating risks and impact of natural disasters within and outside of the project areas. Everyone here includes the officials of the World Bank, the governments of Pakistan and Sindh and Wapda. The tragic part of the whole story is that the concerns of local experts and the community were ignored, with the result that ultimately, it was they who were proved right. It was only after the breakdown of the project and its aftermath that grassroot representatives persuaded the World Bank to appoint an independent panel to look into the episode.

The panel has identified serious flaws in the project whose initial cost escalated from Rs8.5 billion to over Rs31 billion. The unfinished project was then merged with National Drainage Project (NDP). Officials responsible for the project were less systemic, less informed and more ad hoc, says the panel.Now the World Bank wants to make amends. It says that improving the livelihood of thousands of poor families who have suffered adverse impact at the tail end of the Indus River system is at the core of a new water management action plan. But will the poor families, who have suffered, be compensated for the loss of their livelihood and their near and dear ones. The flood response plan is planned to be worked out with local officials to ensure better management of this risk, including early warning and evacuation plans and flood refuge structures. The programme would focus on those people living close to the LBOD or for whom the panel found the LBOD was a contributing factor to flood damage. LBOD is not an isolated case where the World Bank and the country receiving its assistance handle projects, completely oblivious of their implications, whether it be the framing of feasibility reports or monitoring and execution of programmes. One serious consequence is the problem of cost over-runs that make projects unduly costly and create bad debts.

Pakistan has been heavily dependent on external assistance to finance its economic development and face balance of payments difficulties, especially when the multilateral lending agencies like the IMF and the World Bank provide the credit. Currently, too, these agencies are financing public sector development programme while government reforms are still to be implemented, with improvement in governance linked to much delayed fiscal probity. With the delivery system being weak, the outcome is not known. The World Bank has done the right thing by accepting the massive failure on its part in case of the LBOD project. But what is no less important is that stakeholders in any programme or project must have an effective say, particularly those who are to be its beneficiaries. Though belatedly, the World Bank has set an example for Pakistan to follow. Similarly, the multinational agencies like the IMF and the World Bank often blame the aid recipients for failures and do not normally share the blame for their own lapses as has been brought out by the panel report in the LBOD case. It is time for two-way accountability.

Content from the People’s Tribunal of 2007 and a campaign letter to the World Bank

1.

Awami Adalat ( Peoples Tribunal) —Badin - 19th September 2007

Awami Adalat ( Peoples Tribunal)

Proceedings and Decisions of Awami Adalat organized by Anti-LBOD Tahreek September 09, 2007 at Roopa Mari, Badin Sindh Pakistan. The Awami Adalat (Peoples Tribunal) was organized by Anti-LBOD Tahreek at Roopa Mari, Badin Sindh Pakistan on September 09, 2007. There were three tribunal Judges including Karamat Ali, Ali Ercelawn and Professor Nauman. The tribunal was attended by more than 2000 men and women of the project affected area. Key Decisions of the Tribunal 1. Until and unless compensation of the losses is not made and proper solution of long term disposal issue is not implemented, people will not allow any organization to launch a new project in this area, which gives impression that people are receiving projects. The small projects in the name of LBOD compensation are jokes and trying to sabotage the struggle and pacify the community movement, thus it was decided that local people will boycott the PPAF initiated project in Badin and Thatta.

2. It was decided that the organizations initiating project in the name of LBOD compensation should share the information with affected people, which should include the list of projects, costs and locations.

3. It was decided that Anti-LBOD Tahreek will write individually to the organizations involved in coastal area development project to withdraw from the project, don’t be the sub-contractor of World Bank and show solidarity with affected people.

4. More than 7000 signature have been collected and it was decided that a fresh letter of demands will be sent to WB, ADB and all other relevant stakeholders including the executive directors of World Bank.

In the start of tribunal proceedings Mr. Mohd Ali Shah described the problems of the project to the tribunal judges. The key points of Mr. Shah’s speech is given below: • The coastal areas of Badin was rich and its was the area where six rivers were falling • Roopa Mari where the tribunal is being held was capital of soomra rulers • Till the 1960’s area has abundance of grazing, livestock and agriculture • The Left Bank Outfall Drain Project was initiated in 1980’s to evacuate drainage effluent of Sanghar, Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas districts through Badin to sea. • The project consisted on network of drains, installation of tubewells, construction of chotiari reservoir and 42-km tidal link • Project created following problems during implementation: o Completely ignored community concerns o Cost over run from $ 634 million to $ 1 billion o Completed in twice the deisgn time o Huge corruption in land acquisition and construction contracts o Weak inter-agency cooperation, when project was completed Sindh government refused to take over

• Post-operation problems: o Destroyed the wetlands two of them are ramsar sites o Completely damaged grazing area’ o Caused serious environmental degradation o Loss of agriculture land o Caused sea intrusion through tidal link o Economic losses o Human losses , several people has died in drowning in the floods caused by this project network o Displacement of people and disturbances o Loss of crops, houses, livestock, boats, nets and other livelihood means

• Project has violated following fundamental rights o Right to life o Right to development o Right to education o Right Food o Right to water o Ramsar Convention

Community Struggle

• Struggle is as old as project, local people have meeting with concerned authorities, wrote in newspapers • After 2003 flood communities revitalized the struggles. They organized protest rallies, wrote letters to WB, ADB, president of Pakistan, observed hunger strike at Islamabad, addressed press conference and send an inspection request. • Inspection panel findings clearly indicated the policy violations by World Bank • In response management prepared an action plan that was rejected by the requesters and communities on the grounds that it was too vague, paved way for another loan, does not address the fundamental problem of disposal system, does not included compensation to the losses. The action plan comprised on short term, medium term and long term measures which included Sindh Coastal Area Development Project, An study of Wetlands and Water Sector Improvement Project. • After the four years of struggle and huge losses the management action plan was joke with the justice. In the end of his case Mr. Mohd Ali Shah repeated the demands which are: 1. World Bank and Asian Development Bank must compensate people who lost their lives in 2003 flood, whose houses were damaged and crops destroyed. Coastal communities are bearing this loss since 1994, there must be an independent commission to assess the loss to lives, livelihood, environment, and species since 1994 to 2007 and all the losses must be paid to communities for revival. 2. World Bank and Asian Development Bank should write off entire loan of LBOD project. There is no moral and economic justification of paying the loan of a totally failed project. The entire amount must be spent on the rehabilitation of the affected people and environment in collaboration with local government and communities. 3. Every district is responsible for the disposal of waste it generates, thus LBOD project was wrongly designed to transport waste from distance. It has now proved that project has incurred huge economic, social and environmental losses to the coastal areas of Badin and Thatta. It is demanded that LBOD spinal drain should be closed before entering into Badin district. Till the arrangement to dispose the upstream effluent is made, entire effluent coming through spinal drain should be diverted to Dhoro Puran Outfall Drain (DPOD) 4. Tidal link should be disconnected from Kadhan Pateji Outfall Drain. Since tidal link is a main source of brining sea water to inland areas in Badin, it must be closed at shah Samando creek and protection Bunds should be constructed from Jati to Ali Bunder to protect the villages. The depth of tidal link has increased tremendously and during the high tide the sea water with high velocity is not just intruding from surface but it has been mixed with ground water and damaging agriculture land and creating desertification. 5. Project has affected several biologically significant and ecologically important Dhands including two Ramsar site. World Bank, Asian Development and government of Pakistan immediately initiate a comprehensive plan for the restoration of these wetlands. It must be ensured that sea water is not entering into wetlands as well as kotri barrage surface drains are not draining industrial waste into Dhands. The death of Dhands came after the collapse of choleri weir. 6. World Bank in collaboration with district government and affected communities must initiate a livelihood development plan for the affected area. The coastal development project mentioned in action plan is inadequate, people have no say in it and it has not started after the 4 years of 2003 devastation. The comprehensive plan should cover but not limited to following areas: a. evival of Agriculture b. Improvement in fishing and provision of fishing equipments c. Promotion of livestock and dairy development d. Income generation activities including short term employment generation e. Long term plan for revival of education and health facilities f. Provision of safe drinking water

Several Witnesses were called to talk on the issues described by Mr. Mohd Ali Shah. The prominent witnesses who talked were:

1. Allah Bachayo Jamali, prominent Journalist and community activist 2. Faqir Natho Lund, Community Intellectual 3. Bahadur Khan Lund, Local affectee 4. Dedar Talpur, Local farmer 5. Abdul Majeed Mallah, local Journlaist 6. Khadim Talpur, Inspection requester 7. Dr. Najma Junejo, member of district assembly Badin and inspection requester 8. Ms. Chagal, local women rights activist 9. Hassan Mallah, local fisher folk 10. Mithan Mallah, local fisher folk 11. Ms. Jaman, local women activist 12. Ramzan Pathan, local affectee 13. Mohd Qasim Mallah, local activist 14. Noor Mohd Themor, community activist from Jati district Thatta

Key points raised by the witnesses: • Money is being wasted in repair projects, people are dying while officials has made it a business • We want to live and right to life • All the losses should be compensated immediately • We are being killed in the name of development • More than 109 kinds of birds, 66 kinds of grasses and 56 kinds of trees have been eliminated • More than 200000 acres of land has been degraded and 15000 people have migrated due to LBOD in Jati area • Tidal link was damaged in 1998 and WAPDA told local people to help to close the creek, people suggested putting earth and wood, they did it but all was taken by sea water. • In the Sindh Assembly proceeding in 1972 the then MPA Nabi Bux Bhurgari opposed the LBOD project • Our villages are under threat to be flooded by the breaches of LBOD • The livelihood of fisherfolk has seriously damaged by the LBOD project and degradation of wetlands • We will not allow World Bank and others involved to sit in peace while we are dying, we will continue the protest • Why World Bank financed this project, what kind of punishment is being given to us, what is our fault? • We will never forget this cruelty and violation of rights • Narreri lake has been totally destroyed, there were lacs of birds coming in season but now lake is giving deserted look.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
Sachal Hall Ibrahim Hyderi,Bin Qasim Town
Karachi - Pakistan

2.

Letter, August 21, 2007

Petition: Complete Reparation for losses of LBOD project
- by Coordination Committee Anti-LBOD Tahreek

President
- World Bank
- Washington DC

President
- Asian Development Bank
- Manila

CC: All Executive Directors of World Bank

All Executive Directors of Asian Development Bank

Inspection Panel, World Bank

United Nations Commission on Human Rights

August 21, 2007

Subject: Complete Reparation for losses of LBOD project

We would like to take this opportunity to write that after four years continuous struggle for the protection of fundamental rights violated by the World Bank and ADB financed Left Bank Outfall Drain project in Southern Pakistan, neither the World Bank management nor ADB has taken any serious measures to fix the problem and compensate people. The World Bank inspection panel has produced very comprehensive report of the violation of World Bank policies and devastation of the project. But management, despite clear directions from executive directors, is not serious in resolving the long term environmental, social and economic problems generated by the project.

Looking into the irresponsible attitude of World Bank officials and no response at all by ADB in the rehabilitation of coastal people affected by LBOD, in two separate meeting at Karachi and Badin held in July 2007, anti LBOD Tahreek has been launched with the following demands:

1. World Bank and Asian Development Bank must compensate people who lost their lives in 2003 flood, whose houses were damaged and crops destroyed. Coastal communities are bearing this loss since 1994, there must be an independent commission to assess the loss to lives, livelihood, environment, and species since 1994 to 2007 and all the losses must be paid to communities for revival.

2. World Bank and Asian Development Bank should write off entire loan of LBOD project. There is no moral and economic justification of paying the loan of a totally failed project. The entire amount must be spent on the rehabilitation of the affected people and environment in collaboration with local government and communities.

3. It is demanded that LBOD spinal drain should be closed before entering into Badin district. Till the arrangement to dispose the upstream effluent is made, entire effluent coming through spinal drain should be diverted to Dhoro Puran Outfall Drain (DPOD).

4. Tidal link should be disconnected from Kadhan Pateji Outfall Drain. Since tidal link is a main source of brining sea water to inland areas in Badin, it must be closed at shah Samando creek and protection Bunds should be constructed from Jati to Ali Bunder to protect the villages. The depth of tidal link has increased tremendously and during the high tide the sea water with high velocity is not just intruding from surface but it has been mixed with ground water and damaging agriculture land and creating desertification.

5. Project has affected several biologically significant and ecologically important Dhands including two Ramsar site. World Bank, Asian Development and government of Pakistan immediately initiate a comprehensive plan for the restoration of these wetlands. It must be ensured that sea water is not entering into wetlands as well as kotri barrage surface drains are not draining industrial waste into Dhands. The death of Dhands came after the collapse of choleri weir.

6. World Bank in collaboration with district government and affected communities must initiate a livelihood development plan for the affected area. The Sindh Coastal Area Development (SCAD) project mentioned in action plan which is initiated by Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund is inadequate; poorly designed, wrongly targeted, and people have no say in it. Livelihoods plan should be restructured with proper allocation of money and plan should be prepared in consultation with local government, affected communities and local NGOs. Plan should be prepared for long term period eg. For ten years and at least one fourth ($ 250 million) of the project money is spent on it or Bank should forgive the interest payment on LBOD loan, that money should be diverted to finance the rehabilitation activities.

7. Livelihood plan should not be made vague and linked with entire coastal area. The specific activities for the rehabilitation of LBOD affected area should be separately financed reported and monitored. Affected communities/requesters should be given chance to contribute and monitor the activities under livelihoods program. The comprehensive plan should cover but not limited to following areas:

  • Revival of Agriculture
  • Improvement in fishing and provision of fishing equipments
  • Promotion of livestock and dairy development
  • Income generation activities including short term employment generation
  • Long term plan for revival of education and health facilities
  • Provision of safe drinking water

We would like to request you for boldly taking responsibility of failed project and respect for extra-territorial obligations for the protection of human rights; direct the concerned officials of World Bank and Asian Development Bank in Pakistan to prepare a comprehensive plan for the reparation of affected communities and long term solution of the drainage project.

Coordination Committee

Anti-LBOD Tahreek