Friday, April 17, 2015

International journalists' body: World Bank has "failed" to keep promise to alleviate plight of project affected people

A fisherman along Mundra sea shore
By Our Representative
In fresh report, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), claiming to be the world’s "best" cross-border investigative team, has singled out a coal-fired ultra modern mega power plant at Mundra, Gujarat, as one of the spots in the world where the top bankers have allegedly failed to keep up to their declared aim of alleviating the plight of the people affected by the projects it has funded over the last one decade.
Titled "How The World Bank Broke Its Promise To Protect The Poor", the report, published in one of the world's top online news sites, Huffington Post, says that "On India’s northwest coast, members of a historically oppressed Muslim community claim that heated water spewing from a coal-fueled power plant has depleted fish and lobster stocks in the once-fertile gulf where they make their living."
The report said, the the World Bank's private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) loaned "Tata Power, one of India’s largest companies, $450 million to help build the plant." It added, "In India, the IFC’s internal ombudsman found that the lender had breached its policies by not doing enough to protect the large fishing community living on the Gulf of Kutch."
World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim
The report quotes World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim for approving the project. "the IFC’s management rejected many of the ombudsman’s findings and defended the actions of its corporate client." It adds, just as in Ethiopia, in India, too, this way the "the World Bank Group declined to direct its clients to fully compensate the affected communities."
The report is the outcome of a team of more than 50 journalists from 21 countries spending nearly a year documenting the bank’s "failure to protect people moved aside in the name of progress", the report says, adding, "The reporting partners analyzed thousands of World Bank records, interviewed hundreds of people and reported on the ground in Albania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Nigeria, Peru, Serbia, South Sudan and Uganda."
Noting that between 2004 and 2013, as many as 388,794 people have been displaced in India alone in the name of development out of a total of 2,897,872 displaced in Asia's 221 resettlement projects, the report comments, the evictions have happened even though for more than three decades, "the lender has maintained a set of 'safeguard' policies that it claims have brought about a more humane and democratic system of economic development."
In fact, according the report, the World Bank requires that "governments that borrow money from the bank can’t force people from their homes without warning. Families evicted to make way for dams, power plants or other big projects must be resettled and their livelihoods restored." Yet, it says, "The World Bank has regularly failed to live up to its own policies for protecting people harmed by projects it finances.
"The World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, IFC, have financed governments and companies accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture. In some cases the lenders have continued to bankroll these borrowers after evidence of abuses emerged", the report points out.
The report says, The World Bank often neglects to properly review projects ahead of time to make sure communities are protected, and frequently has no idea what happens to people after they are removed. In many cases, it has continued to do business with governments that have abused their citizens, sending a signal that borrowers have little to fear if they violate the bank’s rules, according to current and former bank employees."
“There was often no intent on the part of the governments to comply — and there was often no intent on the part of the bank’s management to enforce,” the report quotes Navin Rai, a former World Bank official who oversaw the bank’s protections for indigenous peoples from 2000 to 2012. “That was how the game was played.”

No comments: