Saturday, May 02, 2015

International investigation says World Bank funding coal-fired power projects "despite commitment to climate change"

By Our Representative
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), focusing on the livelihood needs of the fishing community of Mundra, Gujarat, has said that this is one the spots where the World Bank has funded a coal-fired project despite the fact that the top banker is trying to position themselves "as a leader in the fight against climate change."
Critical of the World Bank, the ICIJ's investigation by Barry Yeoman says, "The bank’s governing board pledged in 2013 to limit its funding for coal-burning plants to rare circumstances", yet its private arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC) decided to invest in a coal fired plant in Mundra. The World Bank agreed to fund because, the report admits, the company agreed to provide "low-cost electricity to 16 million Indians across five northern and western states."
In a report in huffingtonpost.com, a top site, it adds, “The quid pro quo is that society gets cheap abundant electricity, but it comes at quite a bit of cost. They justify those costs because it’s the only thing poor countries can do to help lift themselves out of poverty.”
On the the crucial issue of impact on livelihood of fishermen because of industrialization in and around Mundra, the ICIJ report says, that “the fishing potential of the Gulf of Kutch is significant.”
Yeoman says, "The 1,000-odd fishing families spend most of the year living in a one-room hut on Tragadi Bandar, a makeshift fishing settlement."All that separates the settlement is a man-made channel that releases heated wastewater from the power plant operating in Mundra", Yeoman reports.
"The channel was cut from land where, until recently, fishing families lived. Beyond it rises the plant’s twin red-and-white striped smokestacks, visible for miles across the flat landscape", he underlines, quoting a fisherman how his livelihood has been affected.
Pointed towards the fishing community there is one among the "uncounted people whom the World Bank Group and its borrowers have ignored in their push to create dams, power plants and other projects", Yeoman says, "The global institution’s two main lenders — the World Bank, which lends to governments, and the International Finance Corporation — have repeatedly failed to make sure people harmed by big projects get counted."
"A 2012 internal review of nine World Bank-supported projects found that the number of affected people turned out to be, on average, 32 percent higher than the figure reported by the bank before approving the initiatives, understating the number of people affected by the nine projects by 77,500", Yeoman says.

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