Wednesday, November 29, 2017

World Bank told: Withdraw proposal to fund new Andhra capital project, it will lead to massive displacement

By Our Representative
Top civil society leaders and experts have got together to tell the World Bank board that it must comply by the recent recommendations of the Bank's Inspection Panel for funding the project (approximately Rs 4,700 crore soft loan) to build a new capital for Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati, which it had prepared following its visit to India in mid-September this year.
Uploaded in October, the recommendations were mysteriously pulled down within a few days. The Panel visited the project site on September 13-15, 2017 and heard various representations from the project-affected families. Justifying the decision to pull down the Panel's report, the World Bank said, it was "inadvertently" uploaded before being reviewed by the Bank’s board of executive directors.
Seeking investigation into the grievances of the complainants, the Panel had talked of the need to look into “issues of potential harm and policy non-compliance”, adding, people had “raised issues of a serious character that can only be fully ascertained in the context of an investigation.”
It had also recommended on the need to “carrying out an investigation,” which should "primarily focus on the resettlement aspects, as well as environmental concerns, and issues related to consultation, participation and disclosure of information as they pertain to the Bank’s financing, policies and procedures.”
Those who have signed the letter to the World Bank board include social activist Medha Patkar, former power secretary Dr EAS Sarma, Goldman Prize awardee Prafulla Samanthra, retired scientist of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) Dr Babu Rao, and others.
The letter says, all the affected groups, communities, supportive civil society organizations and media are now watching the board’s decision closely, which will decide on further investigation into the Bank’s non-compliance with its operating policies. In all, it adds, 56,000 acres land would be acquired, displacing 20,000 families.
Addressed to each of the executive directors of the World Bank Group, even while drawing "urgent attention" to various irregularities surrounding the proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project of Andhra Pradesh, the letter says, there has been "lack of sufficient public consultations" while going ahead with the project.
Also drawing attention to "grave threat to food security and loss of fertile floodplains" because of the Amaravati project, the letter says, the suggestions of the Panel’s report for a full investigation into the violations of the Bank’s operating policies must be followed by the Board, and the Board should not undermine the mandate of its own accountability mechanism.
It says, it is astonishing that the Bank has been silent on Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s instruction to the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) to firmly deal with the people who filed complaints with the World Bank, adding, there is complete lack of an adequate and comprehensive Resettlement Policy Plan while going ahead with the project.
Referring also to the "failure" of the Bank to address the issue of uprooting the impoverished Dalit families from Lanka Lands in Krishna River islands, the letter said, this would lead directly to the creation of a wide marginalised community of informal sector on the outskirts of the capital city.
The letter concluded, the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a co-financier of the project, are accountable for the "impending crucial consequences of this mammoth capital city project", adding, as for the state government, it should withdraw the "faulty" land pooling scheme as also the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act (APRCDA Act 2014) be abolished.

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