Experts call Delta Plan “key-document” for future development

DHAKA, Oct 18, 2018 : Policy planners and experts today called the
just formulated Delta Plan 2100 the “key document” for the country’s future development as they reviewed its implementation challenges in a seminar here.

Journalists for Development (JFD) organized the seminar rallying cross
sectoral experts including economists, engineers and geographers and
officials concerned who stressed effective coordination among government and other institutions and communities for the plan’s implementation.

Planning Commission’s member and Senior Secretary Prof Dr Shamsul Alam presented the keynote paper at the seminar where leading water resource, infrastructure and climate change specialist Professor Dr Ainun Nishat spoke as the main discussant at the National Press Club.

Information ministry secretary Abdul Malek joined as the special guest the
function, chaired by JFD convenor and Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha chief editor Abul Kalam Azad.

“This plan is the key document for the country’s future development,”
Nishat told the seminar.

He suggested community involvement at grassroots for mobilizing resources to develop among them a sense of ownership for maintenance of infrastructure to be developed under the long-term water-centric plan.

“The major challenge before the country towards implementing this plan
would be its financing or how to take the Plan forward,” said Nishat,
currently a professor emeritus of BRAC University.

Alam earlier outlined the plan through a power-point presentation saying
the country would need US$37.5 billion for implementing the first phase of the Plan by 20130 while it was expected to boost the country’s GDP growth by another 1.7 percent.

“This Plan is a gift for the future generation of the country by the present generation. We call a long-term plan as we’ve kept the aspects of climate change in the forefront,” said Alam, who is in charge of the planning commission’s general economics division.

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty dean of Dhaka University Prof Dr ASM Maksud Kamal and Professor Dr Umme Kulsum Novera of BUET’s water management resources department spoke at the seminar as expert discussants.

The speakers identified as key challenges the resource mobilization issue
and synchronization of actions required by different government and non-
government agencies for implementing the plan amid speculations about the demographic, environmental and financial impact of the climate change.

The information secretary said the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 was framed keeping in mind where Bangladesh would reach in 2100 as a deltaic region.

He noted that due to salinity, the population growth in the southern
districts like Satkhira, Bagerhat and Barguna is gradually decreasing
contrary to the scenario in the rest of the country and “this plan would help address this issue”.

Kamal said since Bangladesh is a constructive deltaic region, region-wise
mechanisms would be undertaken for developing the delta.

He said the Delta Plan 2100 so far appeared to be the most comprehensive
development strategy as the previous such plans were largely fragmented since those could not integrate the issues of climate change, social, engineering and economic aspects in one fold.

Novera noted that the first challenge before implementation of this plan
was institutional development reforms.

“Different agencies are involved in the water-centric process with
different outlooks, syncronisation of their ideas are crucial since all are
working to achieve the same goal,” she said.

The keynote speaker said economic growth was given due importance in the plan with an in-depth financial analysis while it aimed to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 turning Bangladesh into a higher mid-income country by that time and subsequently a prosperous one by 2041.

“The plan was formulated on the basis of 26 different engineering and
other studies . . . the issues of SDGs, Vision 2021 and the Blue economy,
were also taken into account in framing the Plan,” Alam said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier directed the authorities concerned to
frame the plan to tap the maximum potentials of Bangladesh as a deltaic
region sharing the Netherlands experiences.

Alam said 80 projects were selected under the plan, 65 being
infrastructure ones while the rests were targeted to enhance institutional
capacity, efficiency and research.

He said the Plan divided the country in six hotspots on their basis of
their geographic features. These are: 27,738 square kilometers coastal areas , 22,848 square kilometers Barind and drought-prone region, 16,574 square kilometers haor and flash flood prone areas, 13,295 square kilometers CHT region, 35,204 square kilometers river region and 19,823 square kilometers estuaries and urban region.

Nishat suggested that the policymakers would also have to give attention
towards addressing the intrusion of salinity in the coastal areas alongside
considering the rapid trend of urbanization.

He said the crucial food security would not be ensured unless there was
proper flood management adding that a fresh look was needed to the water
sector for suggesting Bangladesh Water Development Board to be renamed as Bangladesh Water Management Board.

“We’ll have to go for river training and river dredging simultaneously as
rivers do also carry sediment alongside water. We’ve knowledge gap in this
regard that we don’t have any mechanism to calculate the amount of sediment for its load management,” he said.

The SDF convenor wrapped up the discussion saying the Delta Plan 2100 was the result of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s farsighted thoughts for the future generation.

“As citizens of the country, we also do have our duty and responsibility
to help implement this plan,” he said.

The required fund for the 80 projects would come from the government,
Green Climate Fund, development partners, foreign direct investment and the private sector.