III. INTEGRATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO DECISION- MAKING FOR FLOOD LOSS REDUCTION
G. Decision-making procedure for integration of projects into development planning
4. Incorporation of environmental and people's participation aspects
In the past, environmental issues and people's participation aspects were not accorded sufficient importance in the planning process, and in some cases were neglected altogether. There was no discussion with the intended beneficiaries at the planning stage and hence local needs and knowledge were not adequately taken into account. In the few cases in which there was consultation at the planning stage, projects were generally better conceived and their implementation and subsequent operation and maintenance were better facilitated (FPCO, 1995b).
To ensure people's participation, public opinion on the proposed project and its likely impact is now sought during the pre-feasibility/feasibility stages (see Section III.E.2 and III.E.3). Such consultation helps in avoiding past mistakes. Usually, environmental, socio-economic, resource utilization issues etc. are the consultation topics designed to reflect the people's concerns in the project parameters (technical or non-technical).
Environmental issues are analyzed at the project planning stage based on environmental impact assessment studies carried out at the project identification stage (see Sec. III.D.1 and III.D.2). For large-scale projects with cross-sectoral implications, multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is carried out to determine project soundness and viability (see Sec. III.F.1.). Results obtained through MCA and likely options to mitigate adverse environmental effects are all duly considered by the ministry/agency sponsoring the project while preparing the PCP, based on which decisions are made for final approval. However, before final approval of the project by the PC or ECNEC (as the case may be), follow-up projects to offset negative consequences of the project, if any, are identified.
By and large, the integration of environmental issues has been formalized in the planning process in Bangladesh. A law was enacted in 1995 (Government of Bangladesh, 1995) which requires environmental clearance from the DOE before a development project is approved. However, the following two functional weaknesses are observed:
(a) Funding for the follow-up projects (to offset environmental impacts) is not always readily available, which poses a difficulty in economic decision-making;
(b) Complementary projects to be taken-up by other ministries/divisions are not always in conformity with the priority of the concerned agencies or the fund allocations for them have not been anticipated in the current ADP.