Friday, November 08, 2013

Top US, European groups oppose World Bank support to power project Gujarat, call it "deadlly"

Fishing activity next to Tatas' power plant
By Our Representative
As many as 68 groups from 28 countries across six continents have sent a letter to World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim condemning the World Bank Group’s continued support for “a deadly coal project in Gujarat, India”.
A statement from Washington by Dan Byrnes of the Sierra Club, which has chapters throughout the United States and Canada that offer opportunities for local involvement, activism and outings, says, “This action comes on the heels of a letter from over 100 groups in India demanding that the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation withdraw funding from the project, Tata Power’s 4,000-MW Mundra coal-fired ultra mega power plant (UMPP).
The “open letter” to Dr Kim from civil society groups opposing World Bank, while disagreeing with the rejection of Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) findings on the Tata Coal Plant, says, “As concerned World Bank stakeholders and contributing taxpayers to our respective government’s official aid through the Bank, we are disturbed by your clearance of International Finance Corporation (IFC) response to the CAO report on the Tata Mundra coal power project.” Significantly, most of the NGOs which signed the letter are from the US and European countries.
The letter says, “In solidarity with the Indian fishing communities, we demand an explanation why you rejected the CAO findings on IFC’s policy violations in funding the Tata Mundra coal power plant. What actions will you take to mitigate the adverse impacts and end your financing of the deadly coal project? Following a complaint from Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS, Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights), an organization of fishing families impacted by the IFC financed 4,000 megawatt Tata Mundra UMPP in Kutch, Gujarat, the CAO issued a report showing that the IFC committed serious violations of its mandatory safeguards.”
The letter points out, “The CAO found that ‘IFC weaknesses in reviewing the client’s risk assessment and mitigation did not support the formation of a robust view that the project met the IFC’s policy requirements, that IFC did not consider alternative project design to avoid or minimize impacts, and that IFC has not treated complainants’ concerns as compliance issues.’ However, the IFC rejected the expert findings and issued no remedial action, choosing instead to defend the project decision and client.”
The letter further says, “Even more troubling, despite your work in public health and calls for urgent action to address climate change, your office cleared the response after a month of silence. Your decision means thousands of fishing and fishworker families will continue suffering from air pollution, contaminated water, and destroyed marine resources that CAO found to be directly linked with the construction and operation of the Tata coal plant.”
It adds, “This decision contradicts your decades of public health advocacy and speeches on moving the Bank away from funding fossil fuels. Mr President, you must show that you are serious about your statements at previous WB/IMF annual meetings on climate, accountability and learning from past mistakes. The CAO found massive shortfalls at the IFC, showing that the mechanisms to uncover such issues are working.”
The letter insists, “However, while the Tata Mundra project provided an opportunity to prove your commitment to learning from these failures, your clearance of the IFC response continues the lack of public accountability within the IFC. Unless the findings from the World Bank Group’s internal watchdogs, like the CAO and the Inspection Panel, are taken seriously and acted upon, their role is in name only. This decision undermines the mandate of CAO while allowing staff and management to avoid culpability. Civil society around the world demand you hold the IFC accountable by taking hard but appropriate actions to address the CAO findings, starting with the development of a remedial action plan and the withdrawal of IFC financing from the Tata Mundra coal project.
Among the organizations which have signed the letter include several important NGOs in US such as Sierra Club, Accountability Counsel, Bank Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Earth Day Network, Feminist Task Force, Friends of the Earth US, Inclusive Development International, Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy Program, Oil Change International, Pacific Environment and World Team Now. Prominent multinational NGOs which signed the letter are Greenpeace International , Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Kyoto2, and NGO Forum on ADB, Asia-Pacific.
From Britain, the NGOs which signed the letter are Bretton Woods Project, Climate and Health Council, Forest Peoples Programme, Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), the Corner House, and World Development Movement. Then, there were Jubilee and Market Forces from Australia, Carbon Market Watch and Centre national de coopération au développement from Belgium, Les Amis de la Terre from France; Urgewald from Germany, Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) from Japan, BankTrack from the Netherlands, Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza from Portugal, Earthlife Africa Jhb from South Africa, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union from Taiwan and Re:Common from Italy.
NGOs from several other countries also signed the letter in large numbers. The countries represented include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tanzania, Kosovo, Ghana, Nepal, Colombia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Mongolia, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam, among others.

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