Sundurban Biodiversity Conservation Project – Bangladesh

The Sundurban Biodiversity Conservation Project (SBCP) is a US$ 77.5 million project financed by a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of The Netherlands and contributions from Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), GoB, NGOs and Beneficiaries.

NGO Concerns

In respect of the Sundarban Bio-diversity Conservation Project (SBCP), we have managed to keep in touch since before its inception. We participated in a baseline survey under the Association for Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB the apex body of NGOs) on the request of ADB and submitted our recommendations to the ADB. We participated in the workshops organized for publishing the Inception Report of the SBCP.

It is on the basis of the SBCP’s failure to address the problems of the Sundarbans, the largest single tract of mangrove ecosystem that exists in the world today, that we formed the SBCP Watch Group along with two other NGOs with the cooperation of Action Aid Bangladesh.

NGO Contacts

Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu Coordinator, CDP and SBCP Watch Group. cdp@khulna.bangla.net

Sardar Arif Uddin, Associate Programme Coordinator, ActionAid Bangladesh, Plot 1/13, Block B, Humayun Road Mohammadpur, Daka-1207 Tel: (880-2) 8111763, 8118378Fax: (880-2) 9137753 arif@fo.actionaid-bd.org
 

Related ADB Documents

Summary of action recommendations, CRBIP III Stakeholder Dialogue on Social Impacts, Consensus-Building Institute (consultant)

(March 2002)

Updates

 

NGOs Form SBCP Watch Group

From the very planning stage of the project, the Environment-Conscious NGOs, Environmental Activists, Journalists and other concerned Civic leaders became interested in it. They expressed their opinions as to how the project could be able to conserve the bio-diversity of the SRF and reduce poverty in the region inhabited by people dependent on the Sundarbans. But the ADB and SBCP went ahead with the project without paying any heed to the opinions and advice of the above mentioned groups and individuals. This led to critical statements by various forums and criticisms of various aspects and activities of the project began to appear in the newspapers.

Accordingly, CDP, in association with Uttaran of Tala, Satkhira, JJS of Khulna and LOKOJ of Dhana formed a group titled SBCP Watch Group with the cooperation of Action Aid Bangladesh to conduct aa critical review of the project in November, 2002.

On January 22 and 23, Review and Planning meetings of the SBCP Watch Group were held in presence of Mr. Sardar Arif Uddin, Associate Program Coordinator, Southwest Region, of AAB at the Conference Room of CDP. Resolutions were adopted to enhance the membership of the SBCP, collect and prepare various SBCP related documents, to prepare a Position Paper of the SBCP Watch Group and to prepare facing the Asian Development Bank at its AGM to be held in May next at Istambul in Turkey, were adopted at the meeting. Mr. Sardar Arif Uddin also presented the plan for the Second Phase of the activities of the SBCP Watch Group and Budget for the same.

On the way back from the Asian Social Forum Seminars in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh India, Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu, Coordinator of CDP and Mr. Shashanka Saadi of Action Aid Bangladesh, held a meeting with a group of Activists of the Calcutta University at Kolkata on January 8, 2003. The group led by Dr. Ratan Khasnabis has plans to hold an International Seminar on the Sundarbans sometime in late March or early April this year, and has invited a delegation from Bangladesh.

On January 9, they also met with a group of West Bengal NGOs at Barasat in 24 Parganas, and shared experiences with them.

CDP also compiled Newspaper Clippings on the activities of the SBCP Watch and published a Book entitled: “Sundarban Bio-diversity Conservation Project: Peoples’ Opinions” (in Bangla).

CDP’s Activities in the Sundarban Impact Zone

CDP is implementing a Project to raise awareness for the need to conserve the Bio-diversity not only in the Sundarbans, but in the entire Southwest Coastal Region. This project is being implemented with a Grant from The Tides Foundation through the Global Greengrants Fund of USA.

CDP is also implementing a project to enhance the capacity of local grassroots NGOs and CBOs to serve the disadvantaged people of the Southwest Coastal Region with a grant from Stichting Overal of The Netherlands.

The Peoples’ River Commission (PRC).

CDP initiated this project to form a Peoples’ River Commission comprising NGOs, CBOs, Civil Society Initiatives and Activists in Bangladesh, India and Nepal in order to influence the governments concerned to form a Joint River Commission of the three countries for optimum utilization of the waters of the Ganges and its tributaries.

On the way back from the Asian Social Forum Seminars in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh India, Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu, Coordinator of CDP and Mr. Shashanka Saadi of Action Aid Bangladesh, held a meeting with a Network of several NGOs active in West Bengal and held discussions with them in respect of the PRC. They assured their support, as their area too, had suffered vast devastation by the flood of 2000, which had affected the Southwestern border districts of Bangladesh.

All of you are aware about the ADB funded project implementing in Bangladesh named SBCP (Sundarban Bio-diversity conservation Project). Last year, 35 AGM of ADB we, on behalf of SBCP watch group participated the meeting but did not raise our voice to review the project design. But now we are more organized and already we have done some activites to prove the project was not well designed, which will carry negative impact on Sundarban dwellers as well as destroy the livelihood of poor people. Already we launced campaign with the following activities:

  1. Prepare a position paper on SBCP (done)

  2. Produce primary observation on SBCP by SBCP watch group (done)

  3. Produce a fact sheet (done)

  4. Study on SBCP with some critical objectives relate to SBCP (on going)

  5. Signature campaing

  6. Consultation with SBCP impact zone dwellers and documented (on going) -Poster campaing on Impact of SBCP

  7. Media campaing on prediction of SBCP

  8. Develop a prediction group on ADB’s pipe line project in coastal belt in Bangladesh, etc

 

As I discussed with you at Shanghai, ADB’s 35th annual meeting that, in Bangladesh we are trying to develop a watch group on SBCP (Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Porject) funded by ADB. Already we formed this and also go through the total project, I shared with you earlier on our position, principles and arguments on SBCP project.

In the mean time the watch group try to consult with SBCP impact zome dwellers regarding this issue. I will time to time inform he forum member on ADB, Here I attached a article on SBCP published on national dailies which already know ADB heaequarter personnels.

The watch group trying to prepare himself to claim their argument to ADB (first- ADB resident mission in Bangladesh) and if fail to receive any kind of response from ADB side to redesign the project, then the group obviously present their argument on next ADB AGM will be held at Istanbul.

 

People Declared to Protest the Aggression of MNCs
Dacope Long March in September to Save the Sundarbans

The conference on World Environment Day 2002 at Khulna has been concluded successfully declaring “The Dacope Long March” to be held in September with the firm promise from all tier of sensible people to save the Sunderbans.

As the whole world, this year the day has been celebrated at Khulna with more importance and attention by different non-government civil organizations. The successful six days long (1-6 of June 2002) program was shaped with environmental awareness rally, press conference and sensitization seminars at Khulna Zia Hall jointly organized by Coastal Committee for Environmental Conservation (CCEC) and Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS). The key seminar was on “Oil-Gas Exploration in Block 5 &7: Path to a Prospect or Disaster?” The paper was presented by M A R Aaman, Manager-Governance, JJS and the session was chaired by A. T. M. Zakir Hossain, Executive Director, JJS.

 

The paper focuses on the anti-environmental activities by the MNCs (Multi-national Companies) in Sundarbans Reserved Forest (SRF) in the name of oil-gas exploration. SRF is the largest mangrove system in the world comprising an area of 6017 sq. km. with notable as well as diversified plants and animals. After the declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (1997) the importance of its protection emphasized the responsibility to all sensible persons on earth. Surprisingly Bangladesh Government has included SRF in the oil exploration map of Bangladesh, which is against our national environment and forest laws and act. Two Dutch & US company – Shell and Unicol were awarded to investigate in block 5 & 7 which comprises SRF during the second round bidding and a Production Sharing Contact (PSC) has already been signed with Shell-Cairn to investigate in block-5. Shell has informed to go for investigation at Dacope, which is very close to SRF. It is a great threat to the eco-system of SRF. Besides the dark history of IOCs (International Oil Companies) in Haripur, Samutang and Magurchhara for the same case is still in our mind. Along with this, the design process of Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project (SBCP) did not considered the perception and condition of people living in the impact zone. This top-down project will surely result in wastage of huge money and burden of foreign loan to the people. Peoples from this area must stop this cruel alteration in SRF.

The chief guest of that program was Eng. Md. Shahidullah, Convener, Jatyo Sarthe Tel-Gas-Bidyut-Bandar Rakkha Committee. Other notable contributors were Arup Rahi, Director, Lokoj; Ashraful Alam Tutu, Co-ordinator, CDP; Adv. Firoz Ahmed, Co-ordinator, BELA & Convener, CCEC; Prof. Dr. Ghulam Murtaza, URP Discipline, Khulna University; Nurul Islam, (Retired) Conservator of Forest, Department of Forest, Bangladesh; Gaurango Nandi, Staff Reporter, Daily Janokantho and Rahul Raha Staff Reporter, Daily Observer.

Following the significance of environmental threats in greater Khulna region, five other seminars were launched on safe water & sanitation, climate change, environmental law, development in ganges delta & environmental conservation. At the end session, request has been conveyed to all in the society to save Sundarbans by participating actively in the “Dacop Long March” in September 2002.

You know that we already started some work on SBCP (Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Project ) at Bangladesh funded by ADB. We produced a primary observation report on that project through consultation with project impact zone area people’s, civil society , go through the ADB”s project document etc. I just attached the primary report for your comments and also your suggestion on how we go ahead based on your campaing experience.

SBCP Watch Group Review and Planning Meetings Held

In January 22 and 23, Review and Planning meetings of the SBCP Watch Group were held in presence of Mr. Sardar Arif Uddin, Associate Program Coordinator, Southwest Region, of AAB at the Conference Room of CDP. Resolutions were adopted to enhance the membership of the SBCP, collect and prepare various SBCP related documents, to prepare a Position Paper of the SBCP Watch Group and to prepare facing the Asian Development Bank at its AGM to be held in May next at Istambul in Turkey, were adopted at the meeting. Mr. Sardar Arif Uddin also presented the plan for the Second Phase of the activities of the SBCP Watch Group and Budget for the same.

CDP also compiled Newspaper Clippings on the activities of the SBCP Watch and published a book, entitled: “Sundarban Bio-diversity Conservation Project : Peoples’ Opinions in Bangladesh.”

CDP’s Activities in the Sundarban Impact Zone
CDP is implementing a Project to raise awareness for the need to conserve the Bio-diversity not only in theSundarbans, but in the entire Southwest Coastal Region. This project is being implemented with a Grant from The Tides Foundation through the Global Greengrants Fund of USA.

 

Protest Against ADB’s Activities in Bangladesh

On occasion of ADB president’s visit in Bangladesh, a protest human chain program was held at Shahabag More (in front of National Museum)on 31th October, 2002. The protest program was organized by LOKOJ (okoj@aitlbd.net), Bangla Praxis and Binirman Andolon. 

Shanghai meeting 2002

You know that we already started some work on SBCP (Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Project ) at Bangladesh funded by ADB. We produced a primary observation report on that project through consultation with project impact zone area people’s, civil society , go through the ADB”s project document etc. I just attached the primary report for your comments and also your suggestion on how we go ahead based on your campaing experience.

After coming back from Shanghai, China I feel to design the strong campaing and to involve more and more people to raise our voice strongly. I feel you are all can provide your suggesstion for me.

Last year, 35 AGM of ADB we, on behalf of SBCP watch group participated the meeting but did not raise our voice to review the project design. 

 

CDP Raises Concerns at Geneva Annual Meeting (May 1998)

After successfully advocating with the ADB by participating in the meeting of the Board of Governors of ADB at Geneva, Switzerland from April 28 to May 3, 1998, the CDP began to undertake various studies and advocacy programs related to environment and environment related socio-economic and humanitarian issues, such as advocacy for an environment-friendly shrimp policy (against the environment-damaging extensive shrimp culture now in practice).

The Upokulio Unnayan Shahojogy, known in English as Coastal Development Partnership or CDP, was established on January 1, 1997, to conduct Advocacy for the incorporation of Peoples’ Alternative Proposal of Tidal River Management (TRM) Concept in the Bangladesh Water Development Board’s (BWDB).

ADB funded USD 62 million Khulna Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project (KJDRP). The purpose of the project was to eliminate the water-logging in the polders created by the Coastal Embankment Project which was implemented during the 1960s.

We have also initiated social movements to realize the rights of the land-less to be settled on state-owned agricultural lands in cooperation with the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD).

We are also working in cooperation with the Programme Development Office of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (PDO-ICZM), which is a government initiative to integrate the activities of various ministries.

The PADMA Network of 30 NGOs in the Ganges Dependent Area (GDA) of Bangladesh seeks to ensure peoples’ participation in all major river/water management and other development projects in the region.

Another Network, Citizens’ Committee for Conservation of Coastal Environment (CCCCE) is active to raise awareness of the citizens to conserve the region’s general environment. We successfully advocated for banning the manufacture, sale and use of polythene shopping bags, which pollutes the environment. The CCCCE also observes Earthday and World Environment Day with rallies, seminars, environmental fairs and cultural programs.

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