Skip to main content

Advocacy groups storm into World Bank consultations on environment, say its purpose is to help corporates

A protest rally in Kutch against ultra mega power plant
By Our Representative
Senior activists of several advocacy groups stormed into the civil society consultation, being held to “review” and “update” the World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies organized by the World Bank at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
Terming these consultations as “eyewash”, these activists didn't allow the consultations to proceed, because they felt that the World Bank continues to hide behind the central and state governments in India or other government agencies in different countries and shirk responsibility for environmental and social damage.

Among the projects which were particularly mentioned for receiving World Bank aid despite such consultations was the Tatas’ Ultra Mega Power Plant at Mundra. Madhuresh Kumar of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), speaking on the occasion, said that if the Bank was seriously concerned about the impact of its investments, then the best test would have been “the sensitivity demonstrated in the investments made by its various lending operations.” The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector lending arm, is “complicit in massive human rights and environmental violations that form the basis of the super-mega $4 billion Tata-Mundra 4,000 MW power project in the ecologically sensitive Kutch region of Gujarat.”
In fact, the Bank, has “further endorsed such environmental crimes by offering a $1 billion loan to the building of the Fifth Power System Development Project, which essentially is a transmission line for Tata-Mundra and three other large coastal power projects. Participating in such manner, the Bank conveniently escapes any blame for the disaster, and yet benefits from financing such ‘development projects’”, he said.
Voluntary agencies which came together to protest against the Bank’s ways, apart from NAPM, were the Matu Jan Sangathan, the Domestic Workers Union, the Delhi Mahila Shahri Kaamgar Sangathan, the Delhi Solidarity Group, SRUTI, Delhi Forum, Programme for Social Action (PSA) and others.
Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan said, “The way these consultations are organized are no different from what has been going on for decades. Many such reviews have been conducted, thousands of groups and individuals have participated with the intent of seeing genuine reform of the institution, and possibly its democratization, only to be utterly disappointed.”
He termed the current exercise nothing but a “charade to mask the true intentions of its major ‘shareholders’ – France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, who are grappling with “serious economic downturns and are conveniently using the Bank to force open global investment opportunities with scant regard to environmental and social impacts.” Meanwhile, he added, “the Bank refuses to own up to its responsibility for social and environmental damages it did in Narmada Valley, Singapur, East Parej Mines, Allain Duhangan, Rampur, Luhri and Vishungad Pipalkoti.”
He wondered, “On several occasions these have been brought to the notice of the Bank but without success. Work for the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation, for instance, continues. If such is the case then why hold these stakeholders consultations?”
Umesh Babu of the Delhi Forum said, “The Bank’s policy on piloting the use of borrower systems for environmental and social safeguards has in the past decade been a mantra to pave the way for promoting investment at any cost. Over a decade ago the World Bank funded the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Environmental Management Capacity Building Project. The result was a massive dilution of India’s environmental and social safeguard norms. What’s worse, the processes that resulted lent voice to those within administration and industry who were crying hoarse that the carefully evolved rigour of ‘forest’ and ‘environmental’ clearance standards in India was thwarting economic growth.”
PSA’s Lakshmi Premkumar said, “It took people's organizations across the globe 30 plus years to pressure the World Bank Group to formulate, reformulate and have in place mechanisms that would safeguard social-environmental-cultural-traditional interests of communities and people affected by the Group's financing of so called 'Development projects' across the World and in India.”
However, she added, “it took the Bank, in particular the IFC, only one stroke of destructive imagination to bring in the new model of 'financial intermediary lending' that wiped out all mandatory requirements posed by environmental and social safeguard principles on lending, as they are not bound by such standards. At a time when the financial institutions (FI) model of lending in India by IFC and the World Bank at large are expected to cross the halfway mark of their collective investments, it does not make any sense at all for the World Bank to be holding such reviews of their environmental and social safeguards; they simply do not matter at all to the actual practice of the Bank and its agencies.”
Activists urged members of civil society, who had come for the consultation, to leave the meeting, if they really felt the pain of the people of this country. “The Bank has pushed for policies which have undermined the sovereignty of India and its people, privatized services, opened up market for loot and plunder of natural resources by the private corporations and very fundamentally changed the policies of this country in favour of capitalists forces”, they alleged.
Shouting slogans of “World Bank Quit India!”, “World Bank Down Down!” activists refused to budge from the venue until World Bank Country Director Onno Ruhl, left the hall at 2 pm followed by Stephen F Lintner, Senior Advisor, Sanjay Srivastava, regional safeguards advisor and other Bank officials along with few civil society organisation members and Bank consultants who stayed till last.
A statement by NAPM later said, “These sham consultations will not be tolerated unless Bank owned up damages, compensated communities and stopped funding the environmentally and socially destructive projects in name of 'development'. People's movements have been struggling across the country against its own governments demanding justice and challenging their nefarious capitalist designs but that doesn't mean World Bank can hide behind them. They are part of the larger design of the global financial systems and we will continue to challenge it.”
“The current ‘consultations’ are therefore a sham and must be denounced by anyone deeply concerned about the nature of democracy and are keen to ensure that all peoples of the world benefit from human activity that is based on deep appreciation and adherence to the principle of prior and informed consent and the principle of intergenerational equity”, it added.

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".