Thursday, January 22, 2015

World Bank arm should have addressed concerns of fisherfolk while funding Gujarat coal project: Ombudsman

By Our Representative
A top monitoring report on the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Gujarat, has said that the IFC should have properly studied livelihood and environmental concerns before forwarding $450 million loan to the 4,000 MW project. The report has been prepared by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), which directly reports to the World Bank Group president. The IFC has funded the prestigious Tatas’ Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) in Kutch, at Mundra.
Among other things, the CAO's audit in 2013 had also found that environmental and social risks and impacts were not considered and addressed; there was no social baseline data; IFC’s policies for land acquisition were not applied despite physical and economic displacement; inadequate attention was paid to the requirement of biodiversity conservation; and IFC failed in its review and supervision of the impacts on air-shed and marine environment.
A member of the World Bank Group, IFC finances and provides advice for private sector ventures and projects in developing countries. The CAO’s monitoring report stresses on the “need for a rapid, participatory and expressly remedial approach to assessing and addressing project impacts”, which were raised by the complainants, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS).
The report also talks of “technical non-compliance” on findings regarding “the application of pollution control standards.” It refers to non-compliance “to the World Bank’s Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines in relation to: (a) new power stations in areas with degraded airsheds; and (b) the thermal emissions of the project’s cooling system which releases warm water into the sea.”
Meanwhile, in a letter to CAO Osvaldo L Gratacos, the IFC has ensured that it would ensure compliance of all his concerns by November 2015, when the next round of monitoring would happen. The letter says, already, an action plan is well in place for taking care of the concerns of impact on livelihood of "seasonally migrant fishing communities." It has also ensured complete "socio-economic study" after "individual household level interviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and other methods of consultation to be determined by the third-party experts."
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Click HERE for CAO's report

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