Skip to main content

World Bank, India together "working" to weaken environmental, social safeguard policies: Indian groups

By Our Representative
As World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, on a two day visit to India, meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 24 groups working on environmental, labour and human rights have asked the executive directors of the World Bank ensure that the Bank should ensure that “environmental and social safeguards are not diluted”, as desired by the Government of India.
The groups, in their letter to the Bank's executive directors, say, this is particularly important because Government of India has been advocating “for weakening of the policies claiming that these safeguard policies are too costly and time-consuming to implement; inefficient when national systems could more quickly and easily be applied; and undermine national authority and sovereignty by putting harsh conditions on Bank lending.”
Pointing out that the groups “do not share this view with our government”, the letter says, their opposition is on different grounds and it is not to weaken the policies.
It adds, “We believe that unless there are genuine efforts to learn from past experiences, the consultations are more inclusive and participatory, and keeping people and environment in the core of any planning, these policies will only further disempower the people, rob them off their natural resources and push them to destitution.”
Visiting India to explore new financing opportunities, Kim has been told that this framework is particularly important as “India has been the largest recipient of World Bank loans in the history of World Bank”, adding, “This also means that many of the World Bank projects caused severe displacement, environmental destruction and social fragmentation.”
The groups say, the projects to which the World Bank has funded India include the “much debated” Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, and very recently the Tata Mundra mega power coal project.
Commenting on the two drafts of the safeguard polices, which the World Bank has released recently, the Indian groups say, “The drafts clearly demonstrated all that the intentions are wrong, the process flawed and the purpose of this is to fool people, giving them a false sense of participation.”
They add, “The end result remains the same – to push investments in all possible sectors, with scant regard for social and environmental impacts and without any democratic and participatory processes”, adding, “The World Bank projects are not only a contributor to climate change situation, the projects are also destroying the capacity of the people to adapt to changing climate.”
Prominent among the signatories are National Alliance of People’s Movements, International Rivers, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, North East Peoples Alliance, All India Union of Forest Working People, National Domestic Workers Union and Narmada Bachao Andolan.
The letter reiterates its earlier objection, that “the so-called environmental and social safeguards of the Bank are nothing more than a veneer of protection to mask the real impacts of this dangerous financial institution which works only to increase profitability of its shareholders and furthering the cause of the extractive-accumulative large capital - at any cost.”
According to them, “Despite many voices of opposition and concern from different parts of the globe, the Bank continued it process of consultations, without addressing the issues we collectively raised, and brought out two drafts of it. The drafts clearly demonstrated that the intentions are wrong, the process flawed and the purpose of this is to fool people, giving them a false sense of participation.”

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

UP's Sonbhadra killing of 10 tribals highlights 'failure' to implement Forest Rights Act

Counterview Desk On July 17, as many as 10 people, including three women, were killed and 28 injured when a village head and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribal farmers in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. While the firing took place following a clash between over a land ownership dispute, it reportedly highlights failure of officials enforce Forest Rights Acts (FRA) and Survey Settlement in favour of tribals.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.