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AIIB "lacks" robust policies on social, environmental safeguards: Civil society to tell high-profile Mumbai meet

By Our Representative
Raising serious issues of social and environmental costs in infrastructure projects, its economic burden on public and financial non-viability, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and social movements are set to organize a three day convention on Infrastructure Financing on June 21-23 in Mumbai parallel to the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB's) third Annual Governors Meeting slated for June 25-26.
AIIB, the two-year-old multilateral bank, is investing in all major sectors in India, including energy, without robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and an accountability/complaint handling mechanism.
Out of the total 24 projects, it has financed, USD 4.4 billion has already been approved. India is the biggest recipient from AIIB with more than 1.2 billion USD supporting about six projects including Transmission lines, Capital City Development at Amravati, rural roads etc. with another 1 billion USD in proposed projects.
During the CSO convention, 90 regional, national, and international grassroots and research organisations have come together to organise 20 workshops related to Infrastructure Financing; Development Financial Institutions; Policies and Safeguards; Urban Development; Transport; Port and Coastal Infrastructure; Energy and Energy Finance; Trade and International Financing; Water and Water Sector Reforms; Privatisation and Public Private Partnership; Gender; Social Marginalisation among other areas.
“The participants of these workshops would include activists, researchers, projected affected people among others. So far, over 200 people from across the country have registered for these workshops. The Convention will be attended by Prof Arun Kumar, Medha Patkar, Prof Anil Sadgopal, Ulka Mahajan among others. The registrations for the workshops are still open for the individuals and media,” said Himshi Singh, one of the coordinators of the Convention.
Speaking about the Peoples Convention on Infrastructure Financing, Maju Varghese, another coordinator of the Convention, said, “The convention is a resistance to International Finance Institutions, which are pushing massive infrastructures like industrial corridors, smart cities, the sagarmala project, bullet trains over peoples’ land and livelihood. The massive physical infrastructure will not improve people’s lives, livelihood, and social infrastructure like schools, hospitals will be left behind.”
Deliberating on this, Ulka Mahajan of Sarvahara Jan Andolan says, “The infrastructure that is being developed is not what people demand, but it is what global capital demands.The international financial institutions are promoting corporate interests over that of people and also pushing the states to the financial debt. On the one hand, the Maharashtra government does not have money to allocate 26,000 crores for the social sector, on the other hand, it has 42,000 crores for the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, which will reduce the present distance only by 24 km.”
The Peoples Convention intends to demand accountability from the development financial institutions, particularly AIIB which lacks robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and a complaint handling mechanism.
Meera Sanghamitra from the National Alliance of People's Movements stated that the push for massive infrastructure projects has become a legalised way of grabbing land. Andhra Pradesh has a history of justifying land grabbing and resource appropriation in the name of multilateral donor-funded development aid and the WB-AIIB funded Amaravati Capital City Project joins this bandwagon by further legalizing the loot, leading to livelihood loss for thousands of families and a shared debt on all people of the state.
Projects like Sagarmala, industrial corridors that are being pushed and promoted without considering the irreversible impact on the people's traditional livelihoods and the environment are disasters-in-the-making, she added.
The movements and CSOs will hold the Convention under the aegis of Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs), which include around 90 people’s movements and other CSOs, including National Alliance of People’s Movements, National Hawkers Federation, National Fishworkers Forum, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Bano Andolan, Soshit Jan Andolan, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, Environment Support Group, North East Peoples Alliance, and others.

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