The potentially negative impacts identified with the help of environmental screening discussed in Section 7.2 are assessed in the subsections below.
h.3.1Subproject Siting (Land Use, Landform, and Land Take)
Drip irrigation. The farmers will generally adopt the drip irrigation system on an existing cultivation field/farm, thus causing no modification of land use or landform. In some cases however, farmers may use land that is previously not under cultivation (as has been observed particularly in Potohar, where farmers have grown orchards irrigated by drip system in area that were lying vacant). The potentially negative impacts of such changes in land use/land form include:
disputes over land ownership, blocked access for people of the area,
encroachment into any sensitive habitat and/or protected areas, and
encroachment into any sites of archeological, cultural, historical, or religious significance.
The proposed project will not need any land to be acquired and hence it will not cause any involuntary resettlement.
Sprinkler irrigation and laser land leveling. These interventions will generally be implemented in the existing cultivation fields, hence causing no changes in the land form or land use.
Watercourse improvement: While improving the watercourse, it is sometimes realigned also, thus causing change of land from and land use (this change is on a micro level; at the macro level, no change takes place, since the area in general would remain under cultivation after the completion of the scheme as well). The land under the watercourse is generally owned by the water users, who greatly benefit from the watercourse improvement, and therefore willingly donate the land.
For the schemes under the proposed project where an expansion of the cultivation field/orchard takes place, the following measures will be implemented/included in the design of the scheme:
The vacant area where orchard/cultivation farm is to be established under the scheme should be owned by the beneficiary. No involuntary resettlement should result from such expansion of the cultivation area.
It should be ensured that the local routes are not blocked by such schemes.
If trees are to be cut for any scheme in a previously vacant area, the farmer/scheme beneficiary will carry out compensatory plantation of appropriate indigenous tree species. Trees thus planted should be at least three times the number of trees cut for establishing the scheme.
No schemes should be located inside or at any environmental hotspot as defined in Section 5.5.
The schemes should not be located in graveyards or shrines.
The ‘chance find’51 procedures will be included in the scheme agreements.
Land for the realigned water course should be voluntarily donated by its owner(s), and proper documentation should be completed for this donation. In addition, this donation should be appropriately recorded in the WUA register.
h.3.2Loss of Precious Ecological Values
The project interventions can potentially cause loss of precious ecological assets, if they are inappropriately located and encroach into forests/swamplands or historical/cultural buildings/areas, disrupt hydrology of natural waterways, regional flooding, and drainage hazards.
The mitigation measures described in Section 7.3.1 above will address the potential issues associated with the loss of precious ecological values.
Increased irrigation water availability as a result of water course improvement and/or adopting high efficiency irrigation techniques can potentially cause local conflicts among the communities.
Conflict avoidance and resolution are some of the key functions of the WUAs. The social mobilization and capacity building components of the project will address formulation and sustainability of the WUAs.
h.3.4Disruption of Local Routes
During the construction activities of the project, local routes can potentially be blocked adversely affecting the local communities and their livestock.
The design of water course improvement will include culverts at appropriate locations.
Any disruption of local routes will be minimized through astute planning.
Any temporary blocking of local routes will be discussed in WUA meeting and agreement reached considering alternate routes.
h.3.5Soil Erosion and Topography
No project interventions are likely to involve any large excavation or any other activity causing soil erosion. Some minor excavation is involved in the water course improvement works, but the overall impact of this improvement is reduced soil erosion, which takes place along the unimproved water course.
Some schemes under the project may involve constructing a water pond as the water source for drip or sprinkler irrigation. Improper location/construction of pond can potentially cause soil erosion/subsidence. Additionally, the surplus soil if inappropriately disposed can potentially cause blocked drainage, loss of cultivable land, and associated issues.
The following measures will greatly reduce the potential impacts described above:
During the water course improvement works, earthen channels will not be left un-compacted for long durations.
The soil excavated and silt removed during the water course improvement works will be disposed appropriately, ensuring that it is not dumped in the cultivation fields, and does not block the water courses, drains, or local routes.
The water ponds under the schemes will be appropriately located and designed, addressing all aspects including soil erosion, soil subsidence, and seepage.
The scheme design involving excavation of water pond should include proper disposal of the surplus soil (eg, for the embankment for the water pond itself).
h.3.6Loss of Soil Productivity
The flood irrigation helps in leaching of salts present in the irrigation water (particularly when groundwater is used) from the soil thus avoiding salt build up in the crop root zone. However, the proposed high efficiency irrigation system may potentially lead to salt build up in the crop root zone since the leaching is unlikely to take place with the controlled irrigation. This phenomenon may be more likely in central and southern Punjab where rainfall is too scanty and therefore little natural leaching of salts takes place.
Drip irrigation system should be preferred for row crops and for areas having loamy soils.
Soil analyses should be carried out in the fields using high efficiency irrigation systems to detect any salt build up in the crop root zone.
In the fields using drip irrigation systems in areas with little or scanty rainfall, occasional (say, once a year) flood irrigation may be considered to avoid salt build up in the soil, particularly where groundwater is used for irrigation.
h.3.7Reduced Groundwater Recharge
The water course lining while conserving water by reducing the water seepage from the water courses can also potentially reduce the groundwater recharge thus affecting among others the drinking water source for the local population. The groundwater in areas where it is not saline or brackish has become a major source of irrigation water. The seepage from the irrigation network and the cultivation fields is among the major sources of recharge to this valuable natural water storage.
One of the design criteria adopted by the Department is to limit the water course lining to 30 percent in the areas with fresh groundwater. This will ensure adequate groundwater recharge from the remaining places.
In addition, the Department should utilize the results of the groundwater studies being carried out by different organizations in the Country. This would help understand the actual impact of the water course lining on the groundwater table.
h.3.8Soil and Water Contamination
The application of chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides) can potentially cause soil and water contamination, having negative impacts on people, as well as on natural flora and fauna. The high-efficiency irrigation techniques and laser land leveling included in the proposed project generally increase the effectiveness of these inputs, thus reducing the quantities of these inputs per unit farm produce. Particulalrly in case of the HEIS, the fertilizers and pesticides are msoslty applied directly to the crop root zone, which results into maximum absorption of these chemicals by the plant, thus reducing the possibility and extent of soil and water contamination.
The installation of the drip or sprinkler system may also generate small quantities of wastes, such as plastic tubing, pieces of metal pipes, and pipe fittings, as well as left over construction material including cement, sand and bricks can potentially cause soil and water contamination.
Judicious use of the chemical inputs and use of alternate techniques (such as integrated pest management, using disease-resistant seeds, and mulching) will be promoted through awareness raising and capacity building initiatives which are included in the Component C1 of the proposed project (see Section 3.4.3).
The capacity building program will also include safe handling of hazardous substances such as pesticides.
Waste disposal guidelines will be included in the design of the schemes. It will be ensured that no waste or left over construction material is left behind in the cultivation fields.
h.3.9Impacts on Women, Children, Vulnerable Groups, and Indigenous People
The project interventions will generally benefit the land owners and growers, however, these interventions are unlikely to negatively affect vulnerable groups such as poor, women and children.
The proposed interventions are unlikely to negatively affect the gender roles and responsibilities, nor the women of the area. Rather, watercourse improvement and high efficiency irrigation systems are likely to facilitate the women laborers to carryout irrigation and other on-farm activities more effectively. Similarly, construction of washing bays on watercourses will benefit the local population particularly women.
No indigenous people are known to exist in the Province.
No discrimination with respect to religion, caste, gender, or association with any social group will be practiced while selecting the project beneficiaries.
h.3.10Noise and Vibration
The activities under the proposed interventions, such as laser land leveling, will cause some noise and vibration, however this noise will not be in excess to what is normally generated in a cultivation field/farm during the routine cultivation activities.
Air quality deterioration in and around the farms participating in the proposed project can potentially be caused by:
increased use of chemical inputs, since certain volatile substances can become airborne;
use of diesel engines/tractors for water pumping and laser land leveling;
Dust emissions from excavation and other construction works.
Judicious use of the chemical inputs and use of alternate techniques (such as integrated pest management and using disease-resistant seeds) will be promoted through awareness raising and capacity building initiatives, as described earlier.
Awareness raising and capacity building initiative included in the proposed project should also address aspects such:
Keeping the tractors and diesel engines properly tuned and in good working condition,
Using proper fuel.
h.3.12Water Consumption and Availability of Water in Downstream Areas
With the implementation of the proposed interventions, the water consumption generally reduces, thus allowing more area to be irrigated with the same amount of water available. This is a positive impact (and the key objective of the project) hence does not require any mitigation.
However, water consumption for any scheme involving new area to be brought under cultivation, may potentially affect other water users.
It will be ensured that any new area development does not negatively affect downstream water users.
The water saved through the project interventions should be used to address the water stress and/or to bring the fallow land under cultivation.
h.3.13Clogging of Water Courses
Improper maintenance of water courses can potentially cause silting and clogging of these channels, thus reducing the irrigation efficiency and water availability.
The WUAs play an important role in maintaining the water courses in good condition. Through social mobilization and capacity building during the project, the sustainability of the WUAs will be promoted
Construction and operation of irrigation schemes can potentially cause water borne and water-related diseases. In particular, the ponds constructed to store water can provide breeding areas for mosquitoes, potentially causing maleria and dengue.
The capacity building component of the project will address the importance of safe drinking water and hygienic practices, thus addressing the water borne diseases.
The capacity building program will also address the avoidance and cure of water-related diseases. In particular, ways and means to avoid malaria and dengue will be disseminated to the communities.
h.3.15Safety Hazards and Public Health
Improper handling of pesticides and herbicides exposes the farm labor to hazardous and toxic substances. Though, as mentioned earlier, the quantities of pesticides and herbicides applied per unit produce are reduced by using the high efficiency irrigation techniques, or by leveling the land, the overall quantities of these chemical inputs may increase because of the increased productivity and higher intensity of cultivation. This may increase the exposure of the farmers and farm labor to the hazardous substances.
The water pond constructed for the high efficiency irrigation systems may pose safety hazards for the local population particularly children and also for the livestock. These ponds may also become the breeding areas for disease vectors such as mosquitoes, potentially causing malaria and dengue.
Judicious use of the chemical inputs and use of alternate techniques (such as integrated pest management, using disease-resistant seeds, and mulching) will be promoted through awareness raising and capacity building initiatives included in the proposed project.
The above mentioned awareness raising and capacity building initiatives will also address the safe practices to transport, store, handle, and apply the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Protective fencing would be erected around the water ponds.
The capacity building program would also address the potential mosquito breeding in the water ponds.
h.3.16Influx of Workers and Employment
The water course improvement works will offer employment and/or small contracting opportunities. Influx of laborers/contractors from other regions can potentially cause conflict and tension between communities and these laborers and contractors.
Generally, the proposed interventions tend to reduce time and efforts needed to irrigate the cultivation fields, which may reduce the need of farm labor. However, the increased productivity from these fields more than compensates this reduction in farm labor demand. In addition, the high efficiency irrigation techniques increase the demand of labor having better skills and know-how.
Preference will be given to the local contractors and laborers. The WUAs will select the contractors in accordance with the local norms.
The capacity building component of the project will include trainings for operation and maintenance of drip, sprinkler, and laser land leveling systems.
The modern irrigation techniques also provide an opportunity for the unemployed rural youth to be gainfully employed. Most of the modern high efficiency irrigation techniques are being adopted by young, educated farmers. The capacity building and awareness raising component of the Project should target this aspect also.
Natural flora and fauna can potentially be negatively impacted by the proposed interventions in the following manners:
As mentioned in Section 7.3.8, the use of excessive chemical inputs causing soil and water contamination, which in turn can potentially harm natural vegetation, beneficial insects, birds, and other faunal species.
Trees may need to be cut to undertake the improvement of watercourses particularly its realignment.
Trees may need to be cut and natural vegetation removed for implementing any proposed scheme such as drip irrigation in a previously vacant area.
The following mitigation measures will avoid/reduce the potentially negative impacts of the project interventions on the biological resources:
Judicious use of the chemical inputs and use of alternate techniques (such as integrated pest management and using disease-resistant seeds) will be promoted through awareness raising and capacity building initiatives as described earlier in Section 7.3.8.
Cutting of trees would be restricted to only those trees which cause restriction/hindrance in water flow or civil works.
If any trees are to be cut for watercourse improvement works, the WUA will carry out compensatory plantation of appropriate indigenous tree species. Trees thus planted should be at least three times the number of trees cut for establishing the scheme.
If any trees are to be cut for scheme in a previously vacant area, the farmer/scheme beneficiary will carry out compensatory plantation of appropriate indigenous tree species. Trees thus planted should be at least three times the number of trees cut for establishing the scheme.
As mentioned earlier, no schemes will be located inside any wildlife protected areas (see Table 5.4 for the list of such areas).
Most of the interventions such as laser land leveling and watercourse improvement will not have any impact on the grazing, since they will be implemented in the existing cultivation fields as mentioned earlier as well. Implementing drip irrigation in previously vacant areas can potentially negatively affect the grazing of livestock.
It should be ensured that the vacant area where orchard/cultivation farm is to be established under the scheme is owned by the beneficiary.
h.3.19Damage to Infrastructure
The proposed interventions will improve the on-farm irrigation infrastructure (watercourses), will cause reduced irrigation water requirements per unit produce, and will generally increase irrigated area and productivity of the cultivation fields. These are positive impacts (and the key objectives of the project) hence do not require any mitigation.
Improvement of some local infrastructure such as culverts for water courses is included in the project design. Similarly washing bays will also be constructed at appropriate locations along the water courses. On the other hand, the construction works can potentially damage the local infrastructure.
The WUA will ensure that any infrastructure such as culverts damaged during the construction works is restored to same or better condition.
Without appropriate backup support, interventions such as high efficiency irrigation systems are not likely to be accepted by the growers. Any disruption of irrigation in these high efficiency systems may cause water stress and associated damage to the crops.
The project will ensure strong and effective backup support to be provided by the suppliers through appropriate contractual clauses. This arrangement has been quite successful in providing after-sales support to the farmers during the on-going project.