A public meeting on the role of financial and financial institutions in the energy sector was organized on May 26, 2018 from 6 to 9 pm in the Virendra Tiwari Hall at Hindi Bhavan Bhopal. This meeting was not only a public response of the Bhopal meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on the energy sector, but it also discussed the critical role of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and their forceful agenda of investment. Behind the curtains, their investments are playing a major role in marginalizing and displacing large communities. Their policies always serve the interest of private sector and corporates rather than eradicating poverty for the poor. Their investment push is geared towards transferring the ownership of natural resources from the community to corporate interests so that they can exploit natural resources to the maximum in India or across the world in the name of development. Their investments have always led to large-scale community displacement, loss of livelihoods and loss of natural resources and they are used to go unaccountable and have no transparency. Madhya Pradesh is a witness to two important peoples’ struggles, viz. Sardar Sarovar Dam and Maheshwar Dam in which IFIs like World Bank was forced to step back due to large-scale displacement and environmental disaster.
Various groups working on justice and equal rights not only met in response to AIIB’s Bhopal Energy Meeting, but also discussed among themselves to take this struggle among people in different parts of Madhya Pradesh and India, where all these financial institutions have invested.
The meeting was led by Bhopal’s Citizen’s Forum Hamsab and Working Group on IFIs, in which more than 50 people participated including former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Ms. Nirmala Buch, senior current and retired journalists, current and retired IAS officers, forest department officers, academics, Small and Medium Enterprises Workers Association. Further, representatives from political parties like AAP and CPI (M) red star were also present at the meeting.
Among the speakers in the meeting, there was Soumya Dutta, an environmentalist and energy expert who spoke on the energy financing and the role of financial institutions in the energy sector; Rajkumar Sinha,a senior activist from Bargi Baandh Visthapit Avam Prabhavit Sangh, who is also working on energy issues in Madhya Pradesh, especially among the affected communities by the energy projects, where he spoke about the organized loot and mounting scams in the energy sector in Madhya Pradesh in the name energy access to all and how common people are paying the cost in the name of development. Rakesh Diwan, a senior journalist and activist associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan, was also among the speakers. This public meeting was chaired by Rajendra Kothari, a senior functionary of Small and Medium Enterprises workers Association.
Report by: Rajesh Kumar, Centre for Financial Accountability