A two-day conference jointly organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) and Bangladesh Environmental Network (BEN) is to start from January 11 bringing together environmental experts to inform the public about the government's long-term strategy Delta Plan 2100 and point out its strengths and weaknesses. The Delta Plan focuses on the management of the deltas and the implementation of delta-related interventions, both old and new, which will eventually see budgetary allocations up to 2.5 percent of GDP per annum by 2030 (with 2 percent coming from public funding and 0.5 percent from the private sector).
There are some 80 projects, 65 of which are physical and 15 of which are institutional and knowledge development. Environmentalists fear that unless there is room for public debate and extensive involvement of various stakeholder groups (outside of the departments and ministries of the government), the Delta Plan 2100 may end up like the Detailed Area Plan (DAP).
With DAP, our experience was less than satisfactory. The final formulation of DAP was far removed from the original plan because business interest groups were allowed to get control over the process. DAP ended up being a plan that ignored the years of hard work and numerous inputs from experts.
The Delta Plan 2100 is of far greater importance than DAP as the projects and interventions being envisaged affect the whole country and not just one city. If we fall into the same pattern of ignoring public and expert opinion (as had been the case of DAP), and cut corners here and there to ignore the environmental safeguards and simply accommodate the views of powerful interest groups, we may end up doing more harm than good. We believe that lessons need to be learnt from the DAP experience so that the Delta Plan 2100 can be made a success to truly benefit the country.