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ADB cites hurdles to major railway project

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THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB) has identified environmental risks to construction of the Solis-Calamba segment of the P777.55-billion North-South Railway Project, but said they can be mitigated.

The ADB said that the 60-kilometer railway project will affect 78 hectares of agricultural land and 24 hectares of developed areas, requiring resettlement of about 10,000 people.

”The project will have overall positive impacts and some negative impacts. Most of these negative impacts are mainly construction-related and can be mitigated by the successful implementation of the EMP (Environmental Management Plan). There will be some residual impact for significant negative impacts, which will be compensated by environmental enhancement measures recommended in the EMP,” the ADB said in a project assessment report on the railway project.

Expected negative impacts include blocking of roads, heavy traffic, as well as threats to road safety, health, hygiene and sanitation of construction workers and the public in the project area.

The project will also generate excess materials; block drainage of flood water; generate air, noise and vibration pollution; and cause soil erosion.

However, the project includes compensation measures such as resettlement of affected communities, traffic management plans, emergency response plans and environmental monitoring tools.

”Environmental enhancement plans and compensation measures such as tree planting/green area development plan are recommended to improve the environmental conditions in the project area,” the report read.

The assessment report also recommended establishment of an environmental enhancement fund. “This fund will be utilized for operation and maintenance of all environmental enhancement facilities proposed in the project and to fund any additional environmental enhancement project proposals,” the ADB said. — E. J. C. Tubayan