Chasma Right Bank Irrigation Project


The Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project (CRBIP) Phase III is part of an extensive irrigation system in the largely desert area of Siraiki speaking Pakistan, near the Punjab-Balochistan border. While the ADB claims the project brings water to the desert, many citizens’s groups fear that the project has replaced indigenous irrigation technology, caused massive displacement, and disturbed natural water cycles for great expense and little gain.


The project involves the construction of a 274-km canal along the Indus River, 72 distribution canals, 68 cross structures and 91 bridges. Stages I and II of the CRBIP are already completed. Initiated in 1992, CRBIP III was due for completion in end-December 2002, though construction is ongoing in part due to recommendations by the ADB’s Inspection Panel. It will irrigate 606,000 acres of land in both D.I. Khan and D.G. Khan districts in central Pakistan.


The project objectives are to:

  1. provide a dependable perennial irrigation supply,

  2. ensure efficient distribution of water,

  3. provide necessary drainage and flood relief,

  4. improve access within the area, and

  5. strengthen agriculture support services.


Financing for CRBIP III was approved by ADB in December 1991 for US$185 million; this is roughly 64% of the total project cost. The Government of Germany (KfW) provided another US$40 million — or 22% of total –in loans; the remaining 14% was shouldered by the Pakistani Government. In addition, ADB approved in July 1999 supplementary financing of US$33.5 million to meet CRBIP III cost overruns.

The project cost was originally estimated at Rs 1,570 million. Today, project cost has ballooned eleven-fold, to Rs 17,000 million. By April 1999, and with only 15% of the project completed, there were already extensive project delays and cost overruns.


Instead of requesting a new loan for CRBIP III, the Government of Pakistan proposed to utilize funds from another ADB project — National Drainage Sector Project — to meet Chasma’s cost overruns. In July 1999, ADB approved a transfer of US$33.5 million from the drainage project to CRBIP III. As a consequence, cost overrun estimates for CRBIP III were reduced, resulting in a surplus of US$5.1 million that was redirected back to the National Drainage Project.


The implementing agency is the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).


Civil Society Concerns

The concerns raised by Chashma affectees and NGOs include:

  1. Project design-related social and environmental problems

  2. Project-induced flooding and resettlement

  3. Land acquisition and compensation

  4. Project management,irregularities and corruption

  5. Environmental concerns

  6. Terminating the traditional irrigation systems

  7. Information sharing, participation and consultation with the affectees

  8. Marred mobility


These problems and impacts affect people’s basic rights including the right to livelihood and the right to information. Many of these rights are guarded by national laws. Similarly, the legal and historical rights of local communities over floodwater are also affected by this project. These historical and legal rights were formally negotiated between local communities and the British Government at the start of the twentieth century. These rights are still part of national irrigation laws.


Since February 2001, community affectees and their NGO representatives have repeatedly raised these concerns not only with relevant government officials in Pakistan but also with the ADB, including at the 2001 and 2002 Annual Meetings in Honolulu and Shanghai, respectively.


Projects Updates

NGOs report faulty project design (December 2002) Mushtaq Gadi of SUNGI Development Foundation and CRBIP Affectee Javid Iqbal visited CRBIP site 10-14 December 2002 and reported mistakes in project design and preparation that have significant and destructive impacts on communities: “Lack of comprehensive and participatory social, cultural and environmental impact assessment in the case of Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project (CRBIP) plays key role in suppressing and displacing the requisite knowledge of adverse impacts of the project. However, this situation politically benefits the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and provides them the opportunity to avoid taking the responsibility for the havoc, which they have created in the name of development. Some mistakes committed in the project design preparation and implementation are stupidly unjustified though they have significant destructive consequences for the security of life, livelihoods and ecology in the area.”


Affectees file full inspection claim (November 2002) Affected persons of the Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project (CRBIP) Stage III, filed an inspection claim to the ADB’s Board Inspection Committee (BIC) on November 19, 2002. Following are the major concerns of the project affectees:

  1. Lack of comprehensive and participatory socio-economic, cultural and environmental project assessment;

  2. Flooding and resettlement;

  3. Changes in project design, supplementary financing, and full project reappraisal;

  4. Forced and illegal land acquisition and compensation;

  5. Life style disruptions, in-migration and disintegration of community networks and support systems; and

  6. Adverse Environmental impacts.


Complainants claim that the ADB did not comply with its own policies and procedures viz:

  • Incorporation of Social Dimensions in Bank’s Operations;

  • Guidelines for Social Analysis for Development Projects;

  • Environmental Considerations in Bank’s Operation;

  • Policy on Involuntary Resettlement; Policy on Indigenous Peoples;

  • Operational Procedures on Supplementary Financing of Cost overruns of Bank-Financed Projects (OM 32 BP/OP and OM 13/OP);

  • Policy on Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation.


Inspection claimants are:

Mr. Zafar Iqbal Lund (Hirak Development Center, D.G. Khan; Mr. Ahsan Wagha, Damaan Development Organization, D.G. Khan; Mr. Khadim Hussain, Action Aid-Pakistan, Islamabad; Mr. M. Nauman, Creed Alliance, Karachi; Mr. Shafi Qaisrani, Chashma Affectees Committee, D. G.Khan; and Mr. Mushtaq Gadi, SUNGI, Islamabad.


Chasma affectees stage protest rally (October 2002) 

Chasma affectees staged a protest rally against the highhandedness of local district administration and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and violation by ADB of its own policies and procedures in Dera Ghazi Khan on October 4, 2002. The affectees warned that a mass movement will be launched against them if they failed to ensure immediate redress of their grievances. They demanded the following: allotment of land against the land acquired from them by WAPDA; land valuation according to market rates; resettlement and rehabilitation of the affectees; accountability of the ADB and WAPDA staff; and elimination of corruption and commission mafia in the project. More than 500 project affectees, peasant councilors and the representatives of political parties and NGOs joined the rally organized by Chashma Mutasereen Committee (CMC) and Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) Area Organization.

ADB postpones dialogue to March 2002 (September 2001) Due to the September 11 attacks in the US, ADB reset its CRBIP mission and multi-stakeholder dialogue –originally scheduled for September 2001 — to March 2002. Affectees had been unhappy with this latest development as many of the problems brought about by the project have yet to be resolved, even as the project nears completion.

ADB releases draft consultants’ report (September 2001) ADB consultants from Consensus-Building Institute released a discussion paper it prepared for the multi-stakeholder dialogue on CRBIP III slated for September. Chasma affectees and civil society groups were unhappy with the report, however, citing that many of their concerns have not been addressed. These include negative environmental impacts, overestimation of economic returns, flaws in project design and decision-making processes.


ADB consultants to assess CRBIP social impacts (July 2001) ADB contracted the services of US-based Consensus-Building Institute (CBI) in July 2001 to undertake an “independent and neutral process” of social assessment for CRBIP III and initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue. The Social Assessment Team consists of Dr. Adil Najam (senior consultant, CBI) and Syed Ayub Qutub (President, Pakistan Institute of Environment-Development Action Research). An initial fact-finding mission will be undertaken in August and a draft report prepared for discussion at a multi-stakeholder workshop in September. Consultants will visit Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and the project area in DI Khan. Aside from project affectees, the consultants’ team will meet with government officials and other stakeholders, including ADB staff and SUNGI/DAMAAN. Chasma affectees earlier demanded that WAPDA arranges a CRBIP workshop with various stakeholders to develop and mutually agreed on a work plan for regular engagement between the affectees and WAPDA and a code of conduct for the latter. (see consultants’ TOR and schedule of ADB mission)

FORUM network endorses demands of Chasma affectees (April 2001)

Some twenty-two (22) NGO participants at the FORUM-organized Regional Strategy Meeting of Asian NGOs on ADB Advocacy in April 2001 in Subic, Philippines endorsed an “Initial Charter of Demands” presented by Wasim Wagha, a representative of the local NGODAMAAN. The participants also signed a letter in support of the Chasma affectees, which Wagha also presented at subsequent meetings with various ADB officials at the Bank’s Headquarters in Manila.


Affectees dissatisfied with ADB-WAPDA meeting (February 2001) In a February 2001 meeting organized by WAPDA on the occasion of site visit of ADB’s Akira Seki, Director of the Agriculture and Social Sector Development (West), Chasma affectees realized that WAPDA and ADB officials were unwilling to listen to their concerns. From a report prepared by SUNGI’s Khadim Hussain: “… it seems that both WAPDA and ADB like to deal with the issue by dilly-dallying and wasting time, they want to quickly finish the project and leave the mess they have made for the local administration to deal with… (ADB) tries to shift the blame to the implementing agency (WAPDA). It always shows readiness to bring more funds (loans) to remove the complaints of the communities. On the other hand, WAPDA wants to deal with people in the typical bureaucratic way; that is, first to ignore them (PD told DAMAAN that he didn’t read the survey report), then to split the people by threats, co-optation, bribery in the form of favors, etc.”


NGO survey reveals adverse social, environmental impacts (November 2000) DAMAAN (a local NGO) and Sungi Development Foundation conducted a survey of CRBIP III in November 2000. The survey identified several adverse social, environmental and economic impacts of the project. Social impacts include mobility of people, land ownership patterns, land prices, labor movements, an influx of outsiders, social organization, movement of capital, cropping pattern. (see full survey report)


Related Documents

  • Summary of action recommendations, CRBIP III Stakeholder Dialogue on Social Impacts, Consensus-Building Institute (consultant) (March 2002)​

  • Discussion paper, CRBIP III Workshop on Social Impacts, Consensus-Building Institute (consultant) (February 2002)

  • Discussion paper, CRBIP III Workshop on Social Impacts, Consensus-Building Institute (consultant)(September 2001)


Related NGO Documents

  • Chasma Inspection Claim Update # 3, Mushtaq Gadi, Sungi Development Foundation, 20 December 2002

  • Chasma Inspection Claim Update # 2, Mushtaq Gadi, Sungi Development Foundation, 18 December 2002Damaan & Sungi Development Foundation, December 2000
    Pakistan: Lessons from Korangi ‘inspection’ case, CREED, Pakistan, April 2000
    For further reading and contact information, see the Chashma-Struggles Website.

  • Chasma Inspection Claim Update # 1, Mushtaq Gadi, Sungi Development Foundation, 2 December 2002

  • Chasma inspection claims 19 November 2002

  • Letter of May 28,2002 to ADB President for filing Complaint regarding theChasma Right Bank Irrigation Project (CRBIP) in Pakistan under the Inspection Procedure of the Bank, Ahsan Wagha, Zafar Lund, Mushtaq Gadi, Muhammad Nauman, May 200 , April 2002DAMAANChasma Bank Canal: Messing with indigenous irrigation systems, Wasim Wagha,

  • The Bank’s Un-civil Engagements: Experiences of Chashma Affectees, Mushtaq Gadi, Sungi Development Foundation, April 2002

  • Chasma: Can ADB hear the cries of affectees?, Farhana Wagha, ActionAid Pakistan, April 2002

  • Update: CRBIP campaign status, March 2002 DAMAAN

  • Update, September 2001DAMAAN

  • CRBIP-Affectees Initial Charter of Demands, April 2001, Eileen G. Rillera, NGO Forum on ADB, April 2001 i

  • Pakistan: Irrigation project sparks social, environmental issues.

  • CRBIP – A survey report,

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