Experts condemn Bangladesh flood plan

时间:2019-03-01 09:17:01166网络整理admin

By FRED PEARCE A research programme to decide how Bangladesh should be protected from flooding of the rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra has ended in confusion following the circulation of a draft ‘final report’ on the programme. It claims that the total bill for 162 projects developed during the five-year research phase of the Bangladesh Flood Action Plan will be more than $7 billion – far higher than the $1 billion suggested by the bank and other donors. The report, which has been obtained by New Scientist, was written by Bangladeshi engineers with the help of World Bank officials. An international panel of experts, set up to oversee the plan, condemned the report. The panel, which includes engineers and environmentalists, said it was overambitious and ignored key environmental impacts, including damage to the river fisheries that provide most Bangladeshis with their protein. A final version of the report is due to go to potential donors, including Britain’s Overseas Development Administration, by the end of the year. ‘We’ve read the report thoroughly, and it really doesn’t make the case for the plan,’ says Jim Dempster, a British engineer on the panel of experts. ‘Many of the issues that emerged during the research are simply not addressed here. The $7 billion figure comes from adding up every single proposal ever put forward. That is not what will happen.’ The Flood Action Plan was set in motion at an international meeting in London in 1989, following major river floods in Bangladesh in 1987 and 1988. Since the start of research under the plan, Bangladeshi engineers and officials have demanded an extensive network of large embankments to protect the country’s cities and farms from future floods. This would cost more than $10 billion. But many experts and donors, including Britain and some inside the World Bank, believe many embankments could do more harm than good. They want the floods managed rather than ended. The row resurfaced last year in a leaked memo from Andrew Steer, a leading official at the World Bank, which said a large programme of embankments would be ‘truly disastrous’ but claimed that the bank had ‘transformed’ the plan into something manageable and environmentally friendly (This Week, 21 August 1993). The draft report, part-written by bank official William Smith,