Skip to main content

Pressure on World Bank rises, as civil society gears up for national consultation on Gujarat power project

Bank president Jim Yong Kim
My Our Representative
One of India's biggest civil society networks, National Alliance of People's Networks (NAPM) has decided to hold a national level consultation at the Constitution Club in New Delhi on December 16 in order to raise its voice against World Bank support to the Tatas' ultra mega power plant (UMPP), whose expansion is now on cards at Mundra, Kutch district in Gujarat. To be held jointly with the Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangthan (MASS), which has long been protesting against the UMPP's alleged environmental damage and adverse impact on people's livelihood, the discussion is likely to focus on how the top international bankers have ignored the plight of the local people while funding projects in India.
A NAPM-MASS joint statement, issued on Friday, has called upon civil rights activists and  experts to take part in the discussion to set the tone for consultations, saying, "Disproportionate to its quantum of lending, the World Bank’s influence on India has been unparalleled since it became a member of the World Bank on December 27, 1945. The influence, most often under the veil of secrecy and obfuscation, spanned not just over the economic polices of the country, but over almost all sectors, law and administration."
"This is apart from India being the single largest borrower from the World Bank group for development projects – dams, thermal projects, infrastructure projects, urban development etc. The Bank also was instrumental in privatizing water and power, and opening up agriculture to corporate plunder – something which had a serious impact on a very large section of the population. World Bank Group has currently 386 active projects in India with a committed portfolio of $29.5 billion", the statement said.
It added, "The increasing lending and influence didn’t match with the Bank’s reluctant transparency and accountability. Talking tall on these principles, the Bank failed to walk its talk. It took years of hard struggle for the people of Narmada valley to hold the Bank accountable for its lending to the Sardar Sarovar dam. The Bank was forced to withdraw its lending to the dam in 1993."
Pointing out that "many other struggles have not been as lucky", the statement underlined, "Be it the people affected by Singrauli thermal power project, or the slum dwellers affected by the Mumbai Urban Transport Project or the fisherfolk and coastal communities affected by the ongoing Integrated Coastal Zone Management or the tribal community affected by the limestone mining by Lafarge in Meghalaya, the Bank continue to turn it blind eye to the serious impacts of these projects on people and environment. In a few cases like the GMR Kamalanga thermal power project, people are availing all possible opportunities to hold the World Bank Group accountable".
Coming to the World Bank support to the Tata project, the statement pointed out, "After the Morse Report, which scripted the ousting of Bank from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project, one significant report on India, authored by the Bank’s own compliance mechanism is the recent report by Compliance Adviser Ombudsman (CAO) report on the International Finance Corporation (IFC)-funded Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (Tata Mundra), released late October 2013."
The statement said, "The communities lodged a complaint with the CAO in 2011, raising serious issues arising out of the Tata Mundra project. After two year process, the CAO released its findings. The report confirmed all the concerns raised by the communities." 
NAPM enumerated the key findings of CAO to include:
* Environmental and Social risks and impacts of the project were not considered and addressed.
* There is no social baseline data
* IFC’s policies for land acquisition not applied, despite physical and economic displacement
* Inadequate attention paid to the requirement of biodiversity conservation.
* IFC failed in its review and supervision of the impacts on airshed & marine environment.
* IFC failed to examine the cumulative impact of projects around Tata Mundra
"Expectedly", the NAPM-MASS regretted, "IFC rebutted the findings. It went out of the way, and even risking its own credibility, defended its actions and their client. What was shocking was World Bank President Dr Jim Kim’s complete silence over the findings. While proceedurally the president is the one who should take actions on the report, he chose not to take any actions, defending the IFC, making mockery of communities’ concerns and undermining CAO, World Bank’s own accountability mechanism."
That is the reason, time had come to come up with some "pertinent questions":
* How accountable is the World Bank?
* Is the existence of CAO and Inspection Panel in World Bank a farce?
* Who is made accountable when institutions like CAO find serious non-compliance of policies?
* How is World Bank Group accountable to the people who are affected by its lending?
* Are there oversight mechanisms in India over World Bank and other financing by international financial institutions?
Inviting broad sections of civil society activists and experts to discuss some of these issues on December 16, 2013 afternoon at the Constitution Club, New Delhi, the statement expects participation by World Bank funded project affected persons from different parts of India, senior activists and Parliamentarians. It has also called upon Bank and project officials to take part in the consultation to answer apprehensions.

Church leaders oppose World Bank stance on Tata Mundra project

Calling World Bank President Jim Kim’s inaction on a scathing report on Tata Mundra power project a “disappointment”, several Church leaders, who are also active in social work, have written an open letter to him, urging him to take “bold actions and put the Bank on right track”.
Signed by Fr. Walter Fernandes SJ, Founder Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Fr. Prakash Louis SJ, Director of the Bihar Social Institute, Patna, Fr. Joseph Xavier SJ, Director Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, Fr. George Mutholil SJ, Director Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, Fr. Benny Chiramel SJ, Fr. Tintus Dungdung SJ and Fr. Anthony Herbert SJ of Jesuits in Social Action, the letter said:
"We have been following the developments at Tata Mundra for some time. We were concerned about the colossal social and environmental costs of the project, particularly on the poor fishing communities.
"We were very happy to learn that your independent recourse mechanism Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) is investigating International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) compliance of its social and environmental policies. We were hoping that the findings will help the fisherfolk and other communities affected by the project to address their concerns.
"The CAO findings point to serious lapses in the compliance. The findings point to the fact that neither the IFC nor the company have done a serious and steadfast impact assessment, or, informed or consulted the affected communities before risking their livelihoods, or developed plans to mitigate the impacts. Apart from a serious threat to their livelihood, the health impacts of the project on people, especially the children, is reported to be very grim. This, Dr. Kim, is very serious for a project of this magnitude.
"Despite high hopes on appropriate actions on the findings, to our disappointment, we learn that there has been no action taken on it. At a time when the climate change is a reality, putting thousands of lives and property at risk, we are afraid that the cost of this inaction would be too high.
"We believe that God as appointed you as the President of World Bank Group to take some bold actions and put the Bank on right track. This is one opportunity for you to do that. We hope you will not hesitate to stand by the truth and lead from the front."

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Kailash Satyarthi NGO makes slum kids laud RSS founder Hedgewar as freedom fighter

By Rajiv Shah  In a move which may raise many an eyebrow, a Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported child rights NGO has celebrated Prime Minister Narendra Modi-intitiated Har Ghar Tiranga by commemorating 75 freedom fighters by "narrating their famous deeds and chanting slogans of each leader", including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai and a person who had little or nothing common with the freedom movement -- RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. A communique from the Kailash Satyarthi Childrens Foundation (KSCF), which organised the event, said among the freedom fighters celebrated by 75 children on the occasion of 75 years of India's independence placing photographs of each freedom fighter included that of Hedgewar, who is alleged to have maintained a distance from Indian Independence movement led by Gandhiji. According to Hedgewar's biography, when Gandhiji launched the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Hedgewar sent information ev

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Gujarat's 'low-key' communalism: right-wing groups compete for anti-Muslim space

By Rajiv Shah  Noticing the emergence of a novel trend, a just-released report based on a fact-finding team's observations following its interaction in particular with Hindu and Muslim political activists, administrators and police officials, has claimed that a major reason why chasm between the two communities in Gujarat has lately reached new heights is, a veritable competition between Hindu right-wing groups and leaders to capture the existing communal space. Titled "Hindu Right, Communal Riots and Demolitions: Emerging Pattern of Communal Riots in India", the report has been prepared against the backdrop of what it calls "low intensity" communalism which has characterised rioting in Gujarat in the recent past, especially after the 2002 communal carnage, one of the worst in Independent India. Especially focusing on riots in two Gujarat towns, Himmatnagar and Khambhat, which took place on April 10, the day clashes broke also out in different parts of India on

Gujarat govt 'contradicts' MHA memo while freeing Bilkis Bano gangrape convicts

By Our Representative  The All-India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah "must answer for the decision to free Bilkis Bano's gang rapists." In a statement, AIPWA has wondered, "What was the basis of the Gujarat Government’s decision to free those men on August 15, 2022, to celebrate what the PM Modi calls India’s Amrit Kaal? Was remission and freedom a reward for rape and murder of Muslims?" The statement comes amidst an Ahmedabad-based legal rights non-pofit, which took up the cause of Bilkis Bano and fought her case right up to the Supreme Court, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), suggesting that the Gujarat government move to allow remission to the convicts contradicts the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Guidelines for Granting Special Remission to Prisoners on August 15, 2022 (75th anniversary of Independence), January 26, 2023, and again on August 15, 2023. Citing the MHA notificat

Need to ask at today's 'critical juncture' of India's history: Whose Freedom@75?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The official propaganda states that: “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of it's people, culture and achievements. This Mahotsav is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey but also hold within them the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The official journey of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commenced on 12th March 2021 which started a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of independence and will end post a year on 15th August 2023.” So as India completes a landmark seventy-five years of freedom – a platinum jubilee – the only question one needs to ask at this critical juncture of the country’s history is “whose freedom@75?” Since March 2020, it has been a di

Har ghar tiranga: will the hungry bellies raise their hand to unfurl the national flag?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians are going to unfurl the tricolour to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's Independence on 15th of August 2022. Indian freedom struggle has not only shaped India as a modern constitutional democracy but also shaped the nature of state, society and citizenship. The anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle were the four pillars of Indian freedom struggle that laid the foundation of a sovereign nation state promised to pursue a society based on socialist, scientific and secular values to ensure egalitarian citizenship rights without any form of discrimination. These inalienable values are central to the unity, integrity, peace, prosperity and progress of India as a multicultural society and secular state. It is time to celebrate these values and promises of Indian independence, a product of struggles and sacrifice of millions of working-class people across the country. India at 75 is still a young nation but old e

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil