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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUNDThe Flood Action Plan is the first stage in the development of a long-term water management plan for Bangladesh. It is comprised of a phased programme of initiatives to control flooding, supported by special studies, surveys, and pilot projects. The Northeast Regional Water Management Project (NERP) is Component 6 of the Flood Action Plan (FAP) and one of five regional water management studies within the FAP. A map of the region is shown in Figure 1.
NERP consists of two phases. Under Phase I, recently concluded, a Regional Water Resources Development Plan was prepared, using a strategic planning process based on specialist studies of key areas including existing water resources development, hydrology, ground water, river sedimentation and morphology, agriculture, fisheries, water transport, biodiversity (wetland and upland), human resources development, and institutions.
The Regional Plan proposes a water management strategy for the development of regional water management systems through 2015. The strategy includes a portfolio of 44 specific projects for implementation over the next 20 years by a variety of government, non-governmental, and private agencies.
NERP Phase II will consist of feasibility study and implementation of one or more of these projects.
1.2 REGIONAL PLAN RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVESThe basic rationale for regional planning of water resources development is the desire to improve upon planning undertaken on a project-by-project basis. Regional planning provides the opportunity for both broader (over more disciplines and a greater area) and deeper (with more information and analysis) investigation of present conditions, likely future trends, and opportunities for intervention. In particular, regional planning provides opportunities to look at issues at a macro level, such as trade-offs between sectors, overall programme phasing, improvements common to many projects (e.g. provision of fish passes in embankments), and relationships between projects.
The overall objective of the Project, as stated in the Terms of Reference, is:
". . . to assist the GOB in planning and guiding the development of the project region and to provide criteria for the selection , design, implementation, operation and maintenance of individual water-management projects benefitting the agricultural, fisheries, and related sectors, with due attention to the growing landlessness of the rural population. In accordance with the objectives of the Action Plan, the Project is to provide the basis for the management of the Northeast Regions' water resources with a view to creating an environment for sustained economic growth and social improvement."
1.3 RELATIONSHIP OF IEE TO REGIONAL PLANThe purpose of the IEE is to characterize the potential environmental impacts of Plan implementation, at a level of information and analysis consistent with the Plan itself.
More fundamentally, the regionally planning exercise itself requires adequate understanding of (1) current biophysical and socioeconomic conditions; (2) important future trends; and (3) the potential benefits to be gained from, and adverse effects of, potential development interventions. In the language of EIA/IEE, these are (1) baseline conditions, (2) future-without-project conditions, and (3) impacts, respectively.
Readers of the IEE are assumed to have ready access to a copy of the Regional Plan. In particular, the IEE includes references to Regional Plan figures.
1.4 TEAM, BUDGET, AND LEVEL OF EFFORTMost of this document derives from work done as an integral part of the regional planning exercise, rather from work done separately in the service of EIA/IEE. Indeed, this IEE summarizes information and analysis generated by the NERP team as a whole during the entire two-year Phase I period. The IEE team, budget, and level of effort, then, are essentially the same as and cannot be separated out from the Phase I budget. The only input which related solely to the IEE was that required in drafting this document -- about four person-months, involving five people.
1.5 IEE METHODOLOGYWithin the context of the preparation of the Regional Plan, the main steps in undertaking this IEE were as follows. Public consultation and expert input are integral throughout.
For the portfolio as a whole, the tasks were:
1.6 LIMITATIONSThis is an IEE, not an EIA, and thus important limitations are the depth of study, the dependence on secondary information, and the restriction of environmental management planning to identification of issues and options only. These limitations should be dealt with as the FAP and individual Plan projects move forward.
Another limitation is that the IEE was prepared by the same team as that responsible for the Regional Plan. On the one hand, the planning team can make use of the in-depth understanding which has been developed during the planning period; on the other, it can be argued that an independent team would provide a fresh perspective and greater objectivity, and thus would be more able to identify possible adverse impacts and other problems.
1.7 IEE REVIEW PROCESSThe latter limitation mentioned above can in part be addressed by full and thorough review of the Regional Plan and IEE.
The Regional Plan has been accepted by FPCO contingent upon acceptance of this IEE. EIA/IEE review procedures for FAP projects are outlined in the Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessment (FPCO and MOI, 1992):
"Project reports should be submitted jointly [study plus EIA/IEE] and should be subjected to three separate reviews by:The Regional Plans and their IEEs are subjected only to the latter two levels of review; the local review applies to project-level EIA/IEE reports. The Guidelines go on to provide additional details regarding this process (pp. 37-8).
1.8 REPORT STRUCTUREThe organization of this report is derived from an outline presented in the Manual for Impact Assessment (FAP 16, 1992). The major sections are:
1.9 GENERAL REMARKSFCD projects profoundly alter the spatial and temporal distribution of water and have a recognized potential to produce both significant beneficial and adverse impacts across the range of water-linked systems. By contrast, the non-FCD projects in the portfolio have very limited potential for adverse impacts. Indeed, almost all of them are targeted to benefit either specific environmental systems that tend to be adversely affected by FCD development, or to enhance environmental quality directly, through non-structural or localized minor structural means.
Thus, to ensure that the most fundamental purpose of IEE is achieved, which is to identify and characterize all potentially significant adverse impacts, this document concentrates on the FCD projects.
This preoccupation with FCD, a necessary characteristic of the IEE, is not shared by the Plan itself.
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