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Implication of International Environmental and Social Safeguard in Urban Transportation Project

Description of the Internship

The first part of this paper contains a brief explanation of JICA, along with roles and responsibilities associated with its tasks between May and September 2011.

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Developments in Urban transportation have played an important role in the country’s economy. Many cities, when faced with threat of ever-increasing traffic-generated pollution and congestion, tend to adopt policies and strategies that would encourage this shift. On the other hand, it has been a significant source of conflict and social upheaval. Complex interactions of local and national actors with international aid agencies offer informative lessons on the pitfalls and opportunities related to displacement of people in affected areas.

Infrastructure development often requires acquisition of land and other assets that are privately owned. Such acquisitions can adversely affect socioeconomic well-being of the people whose assets are acquired. In addition, it adversely affects communities in a similar manner. These impacts include physical relocation, disruption of livelihoods, and potential breakdown of communities. Resettlements can have serious economic repercussions. Moreover, breakdown of established communities, social disarticulation among people who find themselves in different sociocultural environment after resettlement, and psychological trauma that may accompany movement into alien environment, can be severe, if efforts to design and implement resettlement programs are not sensitized to the needs and preferences of such communities.

Well-designed and implemented resettlement programs can however, turn involuntary resettlement into opportunities of development. The challenge is not to treat resettlement as an imposed externality, but to see it as an integral component of development process. In this regard, it requires devotion of adequate efforts and resources in preparation and implementation of the entire resettlement program. Treating displaced peoples as project beneficiaries can transform their lives in many ways that are hard to conceive. This is only possible if the victims are viewed as “project-affected people” who have to be assisted for the project to proceed. For example, in Mumbai Urban Transport Project, India, slum dwellers living along the railroad tracks were helped to become owners of apartments in urban housing cooperatives. Under normal circumstances, these are often beyond reach of the middleclass residents of Mumbai, a city with some of the highest real estate prices in the world (World Bank 1).

This paper investigates the impacts of urban transportation development projects on involuntary resettlement. It also endeavors to examine the role of international lending agencies and industry’s best practices in making urban transportation development project environmentally friendly and socially destructive.


A broad search of university databases such as GEOBASE will be undertaken to identify some of the themes relating to key words such as involuntary resettlement, urban transportation, international aid, and issues in developing economies. These literatures will be searched through Google Scholar as a means of determining the most relevant articles in academic literature.

Literature Review

Urban transportation development in developing nations and involuntary resettlement

Literature review will begin with examining of global trends related to urban transportation development and involuntary resettlement in developing nations. This review will cover issues such as community participation and consent, land tenure and relocation issues, human rights discourses relating to vulnerable groups and the environment.

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According to Doebele, hillsides and river valleys of every large city in developing nations are crowded with people living in difficult conditions. He goes on to explain scarcity of land land for the urban poor in developing countries was saddening in 1980s and is set to worsen in the future (Doebele 2).

Mathur, on the other hand, estimated that every single year, a cohort of at least 10 million people throughout the developing world enter a process of involuntary resettlement. According to him, this is caused by new development projects that are established annually in dam construction, urban, and transport projects.

This section also discusses the concept of free, prior, and informed consultation (FPIC) as well as shift towards proactive stakeholder engagement, which has been embraced by most large-scale infrastructure projects. A number of authors write about issues of prior consent in large-scale projects from a legal perspective. They also examine how community consent relates to issues such as human rights, land tenure, protected areas, and political sovereignty (Mathur 23).

Free Prior Informed Consultation

Hill et al. provides information guide on how communities can engage project implementers in society. In addition, they negotiate for shared benefits from such project and learning more about the same as well as give informed consent. The guide comprises of a seven-step practical framework, which aims to assist Indigenous Peoples. It also provides basic information about the right to FPIC and enables people to participate actively in development projects. These projects include dams, mines, logging, and other large infrastructure projects (Hill, Lillywhite, and Simon 42). It is quite important to note that FPIC is a right recognized in international law; UNDRIP Article 32(2).

International Aid Agencies’ Safeguard on Involuntary Resettlement

Emerging international aid safeguards, designed to mitigate involuntary resettlement are then examined, particularly regarding World Bank’s Operational Policy 4.12. The World Bank made changes to its operational policies in the late 1990s that reflected a heightened consciousness of environmental and social impacts associated with its loans. Caspary argues that among multilateral development agencies, the World Bank Group clearly has the most stringent of safeguards procedures; ADB and IADB follow them (Caspary 25). African Development Bank is considered as the least stringent. Among bilateral aid agencies, the most stringent tier includedJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and oversea aid wing of German Development Bank (KreditanstaltfuerWiederaufbau, KfW).

Case Study: Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Project: Feasibility Study on MRT 6 Line

A particular case of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of urban transportation development projects examined- Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Project, Feasibility Study on MRT 6 Line- in order to draw meaningful lessons about practices to safeguard environment and social diligence in urban transportation development projects.

Project Background

In the last two decades, Government of Bangladesh (GOB) and its international development partners, especially the World Bank, have developed a master plan of transportation network development centred on Dhaka throughout the country. The government (GOB) established Strategic Transport Plan in 2005. This plan includes development of Mass Rapid Transit, road project, and organizational framework development.

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In this regard, GOB, JICA and relevant agencies conducted preparatory study on Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Phase 1 (hereinafter referred to Phase 1 Study) from 2008. This phase (Phase 1) Study was completed in March 2010 and recommendations made on short, mid and long-term projects. Consequently, this study identified the followings as short-term period project to be completed by the year 2015:

  • Public Transport Projects
  • MRT Line 6 project (financed by JICA)
    • BRT Line 3 project (financed by World bank)
  • Road Projects
  • Eastern fringe road project
    • Southern section of middle ring road
    • Flyover projects
  • Traffic management
  • Comprehensive traffic management project
  • Organizational development for managing project

In 2010, GOB, JICA and other relevant agencies started feasibility study on Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line 6. The feasibility study included feasible project plan in consideration with technical, financial, and environmental as well as social aspects.

The MRT Line 6 project aims to improve public transport system by introducing first-ever rail based MRT in Dhaka. The length of MRT Line 6 is 20.1km and includes 16 stations. The line starts from Uttara North where RajdhaniUnnayanKartripakhya (RAJUK) planned Uttara Phase 3 for development of residential and commercial plots/area. It ends at Saidabad, passing through Pallabi , Mirpur 10 , Begum RokeyaSharani , BijoySharani , Farm Gate, Sonargaon, TSC, Press Club and Paltan. The alignment of MRT Line 6 and its land use as well as environmental characteristics is shown in Land seven-step Use Map of MRT Line 6 below.

Land Use Map of MRT Line 6
Figure X: Land Use Map of MRT Line 6. Source: Dhaka Transport Coordination Board.

The study that is currently taking in place will be completed in September, 2011 and is expected to address affected households, population and properties including those on government land as well as private land, throughout the entire 20.1 km. in the proposed elevated MRT. It may be mentioned that 18 new rail stations will have to be constructed. This will require land acquisition from selected places in Uttara, Pollabi, IMT, Mirpur10, Kazipara, Taltala, Agargaon, ChandrimaUddan, Farm Gate, Sonargaon, National Museum, Bangla Academy, National Stadium, and Bangladesh Bank. In addition, almost all acquired land will be used for constructing the new stations. To compensate for the socio-economic losses, mostly related to homestead and commercial enterprises along with employees/vendors, the study will also propose a comprehensive compensation package so that affected persons their socio-economic status. It is also important to note that the content of ESIA is still under survey until September 2011 when it will appear on the first draft.


Examining of ESIA case study in Bangladesh was undertaken to gain a better understanding of what has been conducted on this subject. This part of the discussion therefore draws from exploration of how ESIA works in practice. Bangladesh is investigating some of the major structural barriers that could undermine effective implementation of international aid agencies’ safeguard policies.

The role of public participation in ESIA process in Bangladesh will also be reviewed. Public participation in its current form is a weak as a consultative process and fails to protect adequately, the interest of stakeholders who will be affected by project development.

An investigation of Bangladeshi legal framework, on land acquisition acts, resettlement, environmental and Social Impact Assessment procedures will then provide an understanding of the regulatory structure that is currently in place.

This part contains a detailed gap analysis of the World Bank’sEnvironmental and Social safeguard policy that encompasses specific issues related to involuntary resettlement. The challenges and recommendation to project implementation would then be identified.

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Expected Conclusion

Given these realities and the weak environmental regulatory structure in Bangladesh, international aid agencies can play a big role in encouraging Government of Bangladesh and local implementing agency to act more responsibly through the rigorous application of International Standards. Although this is expected, organizational capacity in developing nations is the key factor to implementing this project in accordance with international standards. Such international norms in financing can have a great influence on how urban transportation development projects are planned, designed, constructed, and operated. This can eventually lead to less severe social and environmental impacts. While urban development can hardly be done without triggering displacement of peoples, such requirements for project can go a long way in ensuring their future well-being (Dhaka Transport Coordination Board 2).


Caspary, Georg. “Assessing, mitigating and monitoring environmental risks of large infrastructure projects in foreign financing decisions: the case of OECD-country public financing for large dams in developing countries,” Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Volume 27, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 19-32(14).

Dhaka Transport Coordination Board. “Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Project.” Environmental Impact Assessment Study, 2011. Print.

Doebele, William. “The Evolution of Concepts of Urban Land Tenure in Developing Countries”. Habitat International. Vol. 11. No. I. pp~ 7-22,1987, Printed in Great Britain.

Hill, Christina, Lillywhite Serena, and Simon, Michael. “Guide to Free Prior and Informed Consent”. Australia: Oxfam, 2010. Print.

Mathur, Hari. M. “Development, displacement and resettlement: focus on Asian experiences”. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1995.

World Bank. “Involuntary resettlement: planning and implementation in development projects”, USA :World Bank Publications, 2004.

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