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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ministry wise impact on environment Part 1 (development mandate makes mowhs the most un-green ministry)

Activities under Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) has maximum impact on the environment. Planned developmental activities carried out by the ministry accounted for the largest impact on the environment

Developmental activities undertaken by the MoWHS has had the most visible impact on the environment, a recently completed study on environment, climate change and poverty (ECP) reveals.
The study which identified how activities undertaken by each ministry impacted the environment was developed by a ECP Reference Group through a series of consultation with relevant stakeholders. The group has recommended various alternative options to address the environment impacts of the activities of each ministry.
A member of the ECP Reference Group from the National Environment Commission (NEC), TshewangZangmo, said MoWHS is likely to be the one with the most environmental impact along with the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
“Due to development activities that the ministry has to carry out like infrastructure construction and many more it has a huge impact on the environment,” she said.
One of the key ECP pressure or issues within the sector is the development pressure on ecologically fragile areas.
The framework shows that due to the development pressure, average gradient of the land in most settlement are more than 30% (45 degrees). To address this issue, it is recommended that there be a planned zoning and hazard mapping of settlements and regulate infrastructure development (enforcement of standards) on ecologically fragile areas.
This, the Reference Group says will lead to planned and well managed human settlement that will reduce risk from natural and climate induced hazards.
It is also found that there is a huge environmental degradation due to road construction. The impact includes pollution, loss of agricultural land, natural habitats, vegetation and water sheds.
“Many roads have been built with no proper environment friendly construction which has led to environmental degradation,” said TshewangZangmo.
The group has recommended a number of alternatives to address the identified ECP pressure to be mainstreamed into the coming FYP.
It recommends the ministry to develop ECP integrated road master plan, including rural, promote EIA application and compliance and provide additional budget to meet the environmental cost.
While the group recommends various options it also gives a glimpse of the benefits arising from the options.
“There will be long term cost benefits, contribution to environmental conservation and reduce carbon footprint,” said TshewangZangmo.
It will also ensure re-vegetation and will save forest, biodiversity and other natural resources.
Solid waste generation and sanitation problems was another issue that was identified as a hazard to the environment.
According to the ECP reference group, 51 tons of solid waste was generated in a day in 2010 and is expected to increase to 65 tons by 2015.
“There has been less measure undertaken to address liquid and hazardous waste,” states the framework.
Alternative options for this is to integrate solid waste management, conduct feasibility studies to trap and use methane and other landfill gases and collect leachate from landfill.
It also recommends management of medical and hazardous waste and to create awareness on waste management, research and development of innovative waste management practices.
“This will lead to clean and green city, contribute to carbon neutrality, prevent epidemic and endemic disease outbreaks and other disease,” says the group.
Another visible issue under this sector is the shortage of water supply and city infrastructure which lacks inadequate sewerage and storm water drainage facilities.
It has been found that due to the poor drainage systems sewerage-spill-over pollutes the rivers.
The group has identified outsourcing service delivery by category through appropriate Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements, promoting and introducing efficient water distribution, quality and sewerage facility and assessing the cause of depletion of water sources as alternative options.
The group has also found that there are inadequate environmental standards in construction (designs, rules and regulations and manuals).
“Because of this construction works do not meet environmental standards and criteria,” states the framework, adding that developmental infrastructures are less-climate friendly and vulnerable to disasters.
Some of the alternative options to address this issue are to include environmental standards in the rules, regulations, contract biding documents and training manuals.
Others include incorporating environmental management in the criteria for issuing certificate to contractors, and introducing green award system.
The benefits if identified alternatives are used will see eco-efficient construction being prompted and sustained, reduction in environmental, social and financial costs, and development infrastructures are climate induced disaster resilient.

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