Drinking water project neglecting environment

Water source has dried up in some catchment areas of the project and muck disposal sites have yet to be stabilised, reads a study on implementation status of Environment Management Plan of Melamchi Drinking Water Project.

The study conducted by Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists warned that stones and soils from the disposal sites might reach the farmland during heavy rain due to lack of stabilisation work and suggested for improvement of drinking water quality.
According to the report, only one-fifth of the total social upliftment programme expenditure was invested in environmental management plan.

The EMP has not been fully implemented and there is no environmental monitoring. Environmental measures related to soil erosion control, pond construction and watershed conservation, replacement plantation, air quality maintenance and waste discharge/disposal were not seen implemented.

During the operational phase of the project, the government should provide ‘levy’ to local governments to implement activities to maintain or improve agricultural products, operate water mills and improve livelihood of fish-dependent population and provide drinking water to local people, read the NFEJ report. Effort in making the project environment-friendly and sustainable through the implementation of environment protection measures has been sidelined.

The report has recommended the government to implement adverse impacts mitigation measures.

“The government should make public an annual monitoring report about possible impacts of river water diversion on water mills, trout fish and crop production during the project operational stage. It is necessary to implement measures to maintain river water flow,” read the report.

The government has also been urged to develop a system to provide prior information to the project about the possible impact of all types of infrastructure development, socioeconomic and income-generating activities in project affected areas and future liabilities on the project.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 22, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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