Uplift projects in conflict-hit areas: Mechanism to assess environmental, social impact

PESHAWAR, Dec 29: The World Bank has prepared a framework to screen environmental and social impacts of the projects, to be financed through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), created by the bank for reconstruction activities in conflict-hit areas of the country.

The international lending agency, being focal point for MDTF, had recently shared an Environmental and Social Screening and Assessment Framework (ESSAF) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, one of the major beneficiaries of the new fund, an official told Dawn.

The ESSAF will provide a mechanism to carry out appropriate assessment of environment and social impacts and implement necessary safeguard measures, while undertaking projects in the conflict-hit areas.

The World Bank in August this year had launched MDTF to assist Pakistan in the reconstruction and livelihood restoration in the conflict-affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan.

The ESSAF has been developed specifically for all projects and activities to be financed under the MDTF.

“Recognising the urgent need for assistance and emergency nature of potential operations to be financed under the MDTF, the ESSAF provides an approach to manage the potential environmental and social impacts of the projects and activities under the MDTF,” the official said.

The framework, the official added, would guide the implementing agencies to carry out assessment of environmental and social impacts besides applying mitigation measures for those projects during their enforcement. According to the policy framework, Environmental Protection Act 1997, which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the projects before their execution, will be applicable to the projects under MDTF.

Similarly, all the land acquisition for these projects will be undertaken under Land Acquisition Act 1894, a law related to land acquisition by the government for public purposes.

Apart from these two laws different operational policies of international lending agency for environment friendly projects will also be taken into accounts, while execution these projects.

As per the World Bank policy, the projects, involving involuntary resettlement, will be screened for applicability of the resettlement policy and any of these projects will only be approved after preparation of a resettlement plan acceptable to the bank.

The implementing agencies will agree, prior to appraisal, not to carry out any reconstruction works under the proposed projects in thickly forested areas, declared forest reserves, wildlife reserves, national parks and sanctuaries. “All the decisions on actions and requirements will be made in consultation with the bank,” the framework said – Dawn