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Challenges that lie ahead of Delta Plan

Shahiduzzaman Khan | Published: March 13, 2019 22:02:22 | Updated: March 23, 2019 12:51:53


Bangladesh endorsed the Delta Plan 2100 recently, identifying six key areas of intervention for achieving upper middle-income country status. The coastal, barind, drought-prone, haor and flood-prone areas, Chittagong Hill Tracts, riverine and urban locations have been identified as the main spots under the plan.

The government expressed the hope that the plan would tap Bangladesh's huge potentials as a delta country by addressing climate change impact, water resources management while ensuring food and water security and tackling disasters.

Based on the experiences of the Netherlands, the Prime Minister had earlier directed the authorities concerned to chalk out such a plan to tap the maximum potentials of Bangladesh as a deltaic region. The Netherlands has benefited largely by adopting such a plan as it had been able to reclaim around 6,000 square kilometres of land after implementing its own delta management plan. The Netherlands is helping Bangladesh execute the Delta Plan 2100.

The government, in fact, approved the Delta Plan 2100 as a long-term strategy to cope with environmental changes and to transform the country into a prosperous one. After the approval, environmentalists and climate experts began complaining that the plan was not taken up on the basis of adequate studies. They said the plan will not be helpful in the long run.

The average temperature in Bangladesh increased up to 1° Celsius in the last 47 years, whereas average rainfall decreased from 640 mm in 1971 to 370 mm in 2016. If the country cannot cope with such adverse effects of environmental changes, economic development of Bangladesh cannot be made sustainable. The plan has, unfortunately, failed to consider these salient features.

On the other hand, doubts persists whether the mega government project for ensuring food and water security and fighting disasters through water resource management would yield the expected outcome. No hydro morphological study was conducted for the mega project. Fixing these things and further research are needed for its implementation.

At a press conference, some experts said they do not disagree with the government's plan, rather would like the incompleteness, flaws and limitations of the plan addressed properly. If the authorities only accept the list of projects from the implementing agencies, questions will obviously be raised about the objective of the plan. 

According to the Planning Commission, the government will implement the 100-year long Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 in three phases which include a short-term plan by 2030, a mid-term plan by 2050, and a long-term plan by 2100. In order to make the Delta Plan more effective, it should be harmonised with different development plans like 7th five-year, SDG plans etc.

Water scarcity is the main problem in the barind and drought-prone region. The water table in this region has dropped to 70,000 to 80,000 feet under the surface. The government is taking measures to reserve rainwater in the region for irrigation and other uses under the Delta Plan 2100.

The government still believes water is necessary 'only for human beings'. But it has to think about other living species while initiating any scheme. As the plan has lacking in these areas, it needs to undergo further changes.

There is no denying the fact that the country lacks adequate skills and technological capabilities to implement the Delta Plan. Due emphasis should, therefore, be given on skill and technical capacity development of the people associated with it.

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