The co-financiers of the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Project (JMBP) raised an Independent Review Panel (lRP) to review and assess the environment and resettlement elements of the project. Mitigation measures for these aspects had been formulated into an Environmental Management Action Plan (EMAP) and a Revised Resettlement Action Plan (RRAP), both of which the IRP was to review with regard to content and progress. The EMAP particularly required examination since implementation of some of the components had been delayed by a year and a new schedule had been agreed in September 1995. In addition, the plan was first drawn up when it was believed that the closure of the Northern Dhaleswari intake in October/November 1994 would cause permanent changes in the flood
regime. In fact a new link channel between the Jamuna River and the Dhaleswari opened up in July 1995 to the south of the JMBP site which promised to restore the flood regime. In the light of this development some of the mitigation components were particularly singled out for re-examination, namely: the promotion of change in cropping patterns; fisheries mitigation plan; boat navigation and monitoring and management of water resources. The RRAP commenced implementation in October 1993. Prior to that date the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Authority (JMBA) had begun to acquire land for construction. The resettlement and rehabilitation of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) has continued since that time. The scope of the RRAP was expanded with the recent adoption of guidelines for compensation of Erosion and Flood-Affected Persons, in September 1996. The four members of the IRP convened in Dhaka on 22 August, 1996 and conducted the review over two visits to Bangladesh, up to 30 September, 1996. On 23 August, 1996 a complaint was lodged with the Inspection Panel of the World Bank from a local NGO to the effect that the people
of the chars, inhabitants of the shifting islands in the main channel of the Jamuna River, had been left out of the compensation and rehabilitation process. The IRP was asked for an objective view of the situation by the World Bank on 27 August, 1996. Meetings were held between the IRP and complainant on two occasions. An interim report was submitted to the Bank by the IRP on this issue on 1 September, 1996.