Field Verification of Social and Environmental Issues of Selected Water Sector Projects in Punjab – Pakistan

Afaf Ayesha


Irrigation helps in increasing the agricultural yield and the irrigation projects are carried out for the welfare of people. The importance of environment for sustainable development of irrigation projects has been realized. Environmental Impact Assessment is being increasingly used as a tool for appropriate environmental planning. In Pakistan, PEPA (Pakistan Environmental Protection Act), 1997 establishes the framework to carry out Environmental Assessment of development projects. Various national and international agencies have developed Environmental Assessment Guidelines and Checklists for systematic evaluation of environmental impacts and their mitigation. The Social and Environmental Management Unit of Punjab Irrigation and Drainage Authority developed checklist for assessment of irrigation projects in 2007. The present study was conducted on three water sector projects namely: Concrete Lining of Dhudi Minor, Improving Nikki Deg Drain System and Rehabilitation of Khanki Barrage. The field verification of social and environmental issues of the projects was carried out according to the checklist of Social and Environmental Management Unit. The most noticeable impacts which were identified include: extended canal closure, emissions and effluents, waste generation and disposal, effect on flora, public health and safety, land acquisition, and social issues. The mitigatory measures proposed: proper project scheduling to minimize the canal closure periods, waste disposal through proper planning, preparation of detailed resettlement action plans and compensation, location of labor camps away from the settlements, avoiding unnecessary cutting of trees, and deployed machinery should be in good working condition. The recommendations of the study are to review and improve the checklists through a gradual and phased process into a more comprehensive social and environmental assessment process; capacity building of all the stakeholders; collaboration between different institutions, agencies and industries for environmental friendly and sustainable development of projects.

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