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Procedures for World Bank’s new accountability mechanism lacks transparency and inclusivity

In a press release issued early last week, the World Bank has announced that the review of its independent accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel, has been completed and that a few major reforms were added to the Inspection Panel. Accordingly, a new accountability mechanism – an “expanded” one as the Bank says, called World Bank Accountability Mechanism’ will be in place from September 2020 and will constitute two separate roles – the Inspection Panel (IPN) will focus on the review of compliances of projects with Bank’s operational policies and a separate Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRS) will resolve the grievances of affected communities, in a time bound manner, instead of compliance review. While housed under one umbrella, the DRS will organisationally be separate from the IPN to ensure its effectiveness and to avoid conflict of interests.

New Roles, Governance Structure

Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) of Multilateral Development Banks have different governance structures and varied roles with assigned functions. It is necessary to see the new reforms of WB’s IPN in comparison to the previously established roles of both Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Accountability Mechanism (AM) of Asian Development Bank (ADB), since most of the complaints from Indian communities have been registered with these IAMs.

There were only four IAMs that offered both compliance review and dispute resolution services – namely CAO of IFC, the Complaints Mechanism (CM) of European Investment Bank (EIB), AM of ADB, and Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) of African Development Bank (AfDB). Now WB’s new IAM will also offer both compliance review and dispute resolution.

The CAO reports to the President of the World Bank Group, while the dispute resolution component or ‘problem solving function’– the Office of the Special Project Facilitator in ADB’s AM report to the Bank President, and the compliance review component – Compliance Review Panel in AM report to the Board of Directors.  The new IAM of WB will be governed by an ‘Accountability Mechanism Secretary’ (AM Secretary) who will be appointed by and report directly to the Bank’s Executive Directors. While administratively integrated in this new mechanism, the IPN members will remain fully independent and continue to report directly to the Board on all compliance investigation matters. Which effectively means, the DRS staff will report to the AM Secretary who then will report to the Board, whereas the IPN will directly report to the Board (Whereas, the CAO staff along with its three functions – dispute resolution, compliance and advisory- report to the CAO Vice President).

Organisationally in the new IAM, the IPN will have no role in DRS.  The IPN will continue to be constituted and operate as established in the IPN Resolution.

Operationally, the new IAM will apply the existing eligibility criteria of IPN for compliance for its dispute resolution function. There will be no change to the current practice of recommending eligibility, when a complaint is registered, based on the IPN’s current eligibility criteria. During the eligibility phase, the IPN recommends eligibility for compliance. After the Board has approved the eligibility for compliance, the AM Secretary will offer an opportunity for dispute resolution to the parties. If Borrower and Requesters voluntarily agree to go for a dispute resolution, the case will be referred by the AM Secretary to the DRS. The AM Secretary will inform the Board, the IPN and Management of the parties’ decision. In case the parties agree to use the DR process, the compliance process of the IPN will remain in abeyance. If the parties do not agree, the AM Secretary will inform the Board, the IPN and Management and the case will be taken up by the IPN for a compliance investigation. The Parties to the DR process would be the Requesters and the Borrower’s relevant project implementing agency.

While ADB’s AM has a slightly different approach – one can approach its problem solving function office – the Office of the Special Project Facilitator and file a complaint regardless of whether ADB operational policies and procedures have been violated ( this mandate is required only if one is approaching the Office of the Compliance Review Panel).

Meanwhile, the CAO’s Ombudsman function responds to dispute resolution complaints and if they are not solved, they are transferred to the compliance review function.

Extended Eligibility time limit for Requesters to file Complaints

Except the IPN, almost all other IAMs had established their own mechanisms much earlier. They all have longer eligibility time periods for complaints registrations than the IPN. Yet, In the case of the CAO, the eligibility ends when the institution’s engagement with the client or the project ends. Whereas for AM, the latest date by which a complaint can be filed is 2 years after the loan or grant closing date. This date is known in advance, disclosed to the public, and can be found on the ADB website. Their brochure also shows the timeline in which a complaint is processed and responded to.

For IPN, this time requirement will be changed so that any request filed up to fifteen months after the closing date of the loan financing the project can be accepted by the IPN. This requirement will be applicable only to new projects approved by the Board after these changes take effect.

Formal recognition of the Inspection Panel’s advisory role

Advisory services focus primarily on the lessons that the IAMs learn about the functioning of MDB operational policies. The advice can be given as recommendations in specific compliance reports, lessons learned sections in annual reports and in other publications. The CAO has a robust advisory policy, where the CAO provides independent advice to the President of the World Bank Group and management of IFC and MIGA.  CAO advice focuses on broader social and environmental concerns, policies, procedures, strategic issues, and trends. CAO’s focus is on preventing future harm and improving IFC/MIGA’s performance systemically as their policy states,

The IPN did not have explicit advisory authority. The IPN does provide informal advice through statements in its compliance reports and its publications, including its annual report and Emerging Lessons series. The press release states that this advisory role has been formalised from 2018.

Formalization of the Inspection Panel’s practice of coordinating with co-financiers’ accountability mechanisms on joint complaints

The World Bank engages in co-financing arrangements with other MDBs. In these cases, requesters could file requests for investigations regarding the same set of issues with the IAMs at two institutions. This always led to two challenges. The first challenge arises when one IAM receives a request regarding a project whose agreements stipulate that the policies of another institution govern the project, like the case is with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The second arises from differences in the procedures of the two IAMs, such as different time limits for eligibility and different rules on sharing draft reports with the requesters. None of the IAMs have developed any explicit policies or practices on how to deal with these situations. Instead, they have dealt with these situations by signing a case-specific MOU detailing how they will cooperate in investigating the same project. The World Bank is yet to clearly state whether these challenges have been addressed or they remain the same, irrespective of formalising arrangements with co-financiers’ IAMs.

Sharing IPN report with requesters before consideration of the Board

This procedure came into effect from 2018, but is officially declared now under the enhancements for IPN. Earlier, IPN’s investigation report was not shared with the requesters until after the Board had approved it. The requesters maintain that this had created two problems. First, the practice was unfair because requesters were being treated differently from Management. Second, requesters lack the knowledge to engage effectively with Management about the action plan.

Independent and proportionate risk-based verification of Management Action Plans

All the IAMs, except the IPN, are expressly authorized to monitor the implementation of the management action plans (MAPs) developed to address the IAMs findings of non-compliance and the outcomes of dispute resolution procedures. All IAMs that engage in dispute resolution have authority to monitor the implementation of the outcomes of the dispute resolution if the parties so request. In addition, the IAMs including CAO and those at the AfDB, ADB, EIB, EBRD and IDB have authority to monitor the implementation of management action plans developed in response to findings of noncompliance. The authority of the IAMs does vary. In some cases, the IAMs are authorized to monitor all cases in which they have made findings of non-compliance. This is the case with CAO and ADB’s CRP.  In the case of the AfDB’s IRM and the IDB’s MICI this authority requires prior Board authorization. It is usually given at the time the board approves the IAM findings on compliance and is based on a recommendation from the relevant IAM.

From September 2020, the IPN can now verify MAPs in those cases where proportion and risk criteria will include (i) urgency of redress, (ii) risk of repetitive harms, (iii) number and vulnerability. The IPN recommendation, generally, will be made after substantial implementation of the MAP or, if the monitoring report indicates lack of implementation, at any stage of implementation. In exceptional cases, upon IPN recommendation, with input from Group Internal Audit, the Board can discuss and assign verification at the stage of approval of the MAP or shortly after. This process will avoid an automatic “one-size-fits-all” approach. The benefit of this option is that the Board would be assured of receiving independent reports on the adequacy of the management action plans, but restricted to few cases only.

How the procedures fell short

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel was the first accountability mechanism (1993) of its kind for the development finance institutions, which was established as a result of people’s struggles against the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project on river Narmada in India. The tenacious campaign around this project led to the formation of the Morse Commission, which strongly criticized the World Bank’s performance in the areas of environment and resettlement of people displaced by the construction of energy projects. Over the years, the Panel has played a major role in trying to adhere to accountability at the Bank and attempting to secure redress of grievances in some cases. Though established as an independent mechanism from the Bank management, the Panel majorly reported the eligibility of the complaint to the Board of Directors of the Bank and did not possess strong recommendatory powers.

When the review of IPN was first announced officially in 2017, Indian peoples movements, civil society and affected communities had called out to the Bank to keenly call forth to strengthen the IPN mandate. While appreciating the World Bank on this effort for a review on the occasion of Inspection Panel’s 25th Anniversary, the CSOs criticised the Bank for giving less than a fortnight to seek comments on this issue. They demanded to extend the deadline by at least two months in the interest of the sanctity of the process. They further stressed that wider publicity should be given to ensure better participation in the process. “The current consultation is designed and carried out to exclude affected communities, for whom the Inspection Panel is established,” the signatories said with much disappointment.

During the deliberations in a symposium organised in India at the 25th year of IPN, in which both the Inspection Panel and Compliance Ombudsman Advisor (CAO) participated remotely, the inadequacy of IAMs in functioning independently and efficiently; lack of capacity and powers to promote and ensure accountability; failure in intervening timely to ensure that the voices of the affected people are adequately heard, addressed and issues resolved; and lack of powers to stay the progress of project construction in cases of extreme violations, were highlighted.

A brief look into the newly released report of the Bank,  ‘Report And Recommendations On The Inspection Panel’s Toolkit Review’ (March 05, 2020) shows that the external review “did not  make recommendations but provided options in seven areas: (i) advisory services, (ii) Bank Executed Trust Funds (BETFs), (iii) co-financing, (iv) sharing findings with Requesters, (v) problem solving/dispute resolution, (vi) time limit on eligibility for requests and (vii) monitoring of Management Action Plans (MAPs)”. And that subsequently, a Working Group of the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) that included members from all Executive Directors’ offices, was established to consider the areas identified by the Review.

When the Bank announced in 2018 that CODE was inviting submissions from relevant stake holders, the Indian civil society had strongly asked for transparent and wider consultative processes with extended time period for affected communities. Opening up the process; adhering to the principle of free, informed and prior consent; adequate time; holding consultations widely and not in national capitals/metros alone; unmasking the ritual format of such processes; IPN having suo moto powers; IPN having suo moto powers for timely intervention – even during the early stages of project appraisal; IPN having a pro-active role even to delay the progress of any project until the violations of the project have been comprehensively corrected and compensated; IPN having monitoring function; IPN having punitive powers and measures for demanding for a fresh Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) wherever erroneous ESIA have been found, were the recommendations from the Indian groups.

During both times, the Bank did not acknowledge the receipt of the submissions from India. Despite the recorded exhaustive measures which were being adopted by the Bank to see through this review, this process has been quite the opposite in nature– opaque, extremely limited opportunities for concerned civil society stakeholders and especially for the affected communities to share relevant inputs. The information available in the public domain was restricting in its scope and the final draft proposal was not shared, despite requests being sent by concerned groups from outside India to the Bank. This was a striking drawback, especially in the wake of IFC having faced defeat at the United States Supreme Court on the Immunity Verdict last year, on the case filed by Indian farmers and fishworkers on serious violations caused by IFC-funded Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in Gujarat India.

With the assistance of the IPN and Management, CODE identified eleven projects whose stakeholders had experience in the IPN process within the last seven years to provide feedback. The selected projects took into consideration regional representation and included projects that had gone through all the different steps of the IPN process. The procedures for arriving at this decision and who all were the stakeholders from these eleven projects is not in the public domain. This tunnel vision and consequent decision making is flawed.

The entire process lacked transparency and inclusivity.

It is further stated in the recommendations that the new Mechanism will be headed by an “Accountability Mechanism Secretary” (AM Secretary) who will be appointed by and report directly to the Bank’s Executive Directors. The AM Secretary will be responsible for planning and overseeing the processes of the Accountability Mechanism in line with agreed procedures and will be responsible for keeping the records of the AM proceedings. She/He will also oversee the Dispute Resolution Service. All staff of the Accountability Mechanism will report to the Accountability Mechanism Secretary with the exception of the Inspection Panel members, who will continue reporting to the Board of Directors. The DR process would have a one-year time limit in order to provide assurance that the process is not prolonged and incentivize the parties to reach an agreement. This administrative challenge is going to present problems with the affected communities who would find it challenging – in the first place to finish the eligibility process of their complaint in English language, the wait during delayed timeline of these complex processes and now having to identify whether they need a compliance review or a dispute resolution.

While it is appreciated that requesters of complaint can submit their grievances beyond project closure (for new projects with effect to the new change in IPN), a distinct DRS will be operational in six months, and an independent and proportionate risk-based verification of Management Action Plans would be established as an additional assurance, they still do not address the fundamental questions ever posed at the Bank by the communities. Will these changes impact the affected people in any positive way? The tight schedules and methodologies lacked a genuine effort for meaningful consultation. Currently, the onus of identifying Bank’s lending to a particular project, understanding the Bank Operational/Safeguard Policies, knowing about the existence of IPN and developing a complaint in a manner acceptable to IPN is on affected communities. This structure disempowers the communities for they are never consulted in advance with full disclosure of impacts, lenders and of compensation/rehabilitation for their losses in most of the projects. Hence in projects, IPN has knowledge about serious impacts, it should have powers to take suo moto investigation as well as actions. Particularly in cases of high risk or ‘Category A’ projects, knowing the potential irreparable consequences, the IPN should proactively look out for the involvement of the potentially affected communities and facilitate their observations/complaints. Sadly, none of these reflect in the “enhancements” mentioned in the review report for the mechanism which boasts of 27 years’ wealth of documented information and engagement with affected communities and civil societies all around the world.

A Case which made World Bank Legally Accountable

On February 27, a year has passed since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 7-1 judgment that World Bank does not enjoy absolute immunity. The judgment shook the foundations of the financial world, which hitherto enjoyed absolute immunity for whatever consequences their lending led to. It’s not business as usual for them anymore.

It empowered the communities around the world, who have always been at the receiving end of lending to big projects – be it big dams, mining, plantations, energy or infrastructure projects. Already two cases – one from Honduras against the private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and another from China against the World Bank – are currently being considered by different courts in the US.

First, a recap of the case, which led to this landmark judgment.

IFC lend $450 million to Tata Mundra (Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd) – a coal-based thermal power project in Kutch, Gujarat in 2007. The fishworkers, who are severely affected by the project construction as well as the effluence from the project, were not even considered as project-affected, let alone any compensation for their loss. Not just the fishworkers, thousands of farmers, salt pan workers and cattle herders were neither considered, nor compensated.

The affected communities, under the aegis of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, approached the accountability mechanism of IFC, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) in 2011. After two years of investigation into the violations of IFC’s policies, CAO confirmed nearly all concerns raised by the people in their complaint, holding IFC responsible for the violations and oversight.

Instead of taking it as an opportunity for course correction, IFC chose to ignore the findings first, when pressure was mounted on them from far and wide, they engaged different agencies to conduct a series of studies, which should have done before the project was approved. The findings of those studies were never made public.

The Government of India allowed CAO to visit the project site only once post the report. Their requests for permission to visit the project to monitor the progress of compliance of the policies where declined time and again. Sab ka saath, Sab ka vikas slogan is preserved for the privileged. Riding on the immunity claim of IFC and a government that loathes any independent assessments of projects or situations like in Kashmir, the company continues to ignore people’s concerns.

Having given the project in a platter by the government in 2006 under the newly planned Ultra Mega Power Projects, this project every sop, until Indonesia, from where the coal was procured, revised their coal tariffs. It took the financial viability of the project for a tailspin. In January this year, the company wrote to the Power Ministry that they could not run the project beyond the end of February because of losses. Earlier this week, they wrote to the states who have a Power Purchasing Agreement with them – Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Maharashtra – that they won’t supply power to them unless the tariffs are revised.

While the company is keen to mitigate the loss by all means, the loss of the people and of many generations, caused because of their project, continued to be meted with indifference and arrogance.

In 2015, the fishworkers and farmers approached the US court – the DC Circuit Court, to hold IFC liable for the livelihood loss their lending caused. IFC claimed immunity from court cases. The Circuit Court and thereafter, the Appeals Court upheld IFC’s claim. Finally, the Supreme Court took it up for an oral hearing and ruled that IFC and its parent body, the World Bank, do not enjoy absolute immunity.

The judgment was meted with disbelief by both sides – obviously for different reasons! Having engaged the best legal batteries to lose the case was beyond IFC’s comprehension. That the Davids can take on the Goliaths even today was a revelation to the communities in Mundra, and around the world.

Having settled the immunity issue, the case in US returned to the DC Circuit Court for hearing on the original petition of IFC’s liability. Again, trying to dodge responsibility for the damages they caused, IFC raised issues of jurisdiction and other legal technicalities. A week before the first anniversary of the immunity case, the Circuit Court ruled in favour of IFC, opening up the road for a long legal battle.

Meanwhile, the condition of the people on the ground went from bad to worse. Because of the effluence, the fish catch went down drastically. Fly ash and coal dust falling on the crops and grazing land made agriculture difficult and animals sick. The intake channel and the continuous dredging of it, expanded the land affected by sea ingress, turning large tracts of agricultural land barren.

A part of what IFC has been paying to its lawyers for defending and covering up their violations would have helped restore people’s livelihood. World Bank Group, a leader amongst the multilateral development banks across the globe, has failed in this case to ensure that people are not left to perish while pushing “prosperity for all”.

Joe Athialy is a social activist based in New Delhi

US Federal Court Rules in Favour of IFC in Tata Mundra Case: Fishworkers and Farmers to Challenge Decision.

IFC hides it shame & guilt behind technicalities of jurisdiction

Kutch, Gujarat / New Delhi: The fishworkers and farmers of Mundra affected by the Tata Mundra Power project will challenge the ruling from a federal judge in the District of Columbia, United States, that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – part of the World Bank Group – is immune from being sued for damages inflicted as the commercial activity was not carried on in the United States. IFC has been granted immunity for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

In a long legal battle to hold IFC liable for the social and environmental damages caused by the Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (Tata Mundra) co-financed by IFC, which started in 2015, the community won a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court last year that the IFC does not have “absolute” immunity to all lawsuits. On Friday evening, United States District Judge John D. Bates again granted the IFC’s motion to dismiss, finding that the IFC is immune under the facts of this case.

The court took a narrow view stating that, “the mere fact that someone in the United States approved a letter that defended IFC’s approach to environmental and social risk management for the Tata Mundra project and announced that IFC will consider certain suggestions raised by the CAO is not sufficient to establish that plaintiffs’ complaint is based upon conduct carried on in the United States”.

It is not only unfortunate but also unethical and legally liable, that in spite of causing irreversible damage to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast, destroying the livelihood of thousand of fishworkers, farmers, saltpan workers and cattle grazers IFC gets to hide behind the technicalities of law. When there is growing documentation on IFC’s failure in upholding their own safeguard policies, which was confirmed by its own accountability mechanism – the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the courts have provided immunity on technical grounds.

Budha Ismail Jam, a plaintiff in the case said,  “We are disappointed by the decision, but are determined to take this fight ahead. To save our livelihoods and protect our environment for future generations, we do not see any other way. We know we are up against a wealthy and powerful institution, but we are determined to make our voices heard. We will continue to seek justice.”

“The IFC refuses to be held accountable for the damages this plant is inflicting upon farmers and fishers in Gujarat, but no institution is above the law,” added Richard Herz, Senior Litigation Attorney at EarthRights, who pleaded the case. “Even the IFC’s own accountability mechanism criticized the IFC’s role in the project, finding myriad failures. The IFC has not denied causing harm, and it is unconscionable that it would claim immunity when it harms local people.”

Tata Mundra Power project has been a complete failure. Recently, Tata power had announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power might be forced to stop operating its imported coal-based Mundra ultra-mega power project. From the violation of national laws to the failure to apply the environmental and social safeguards, from environmental and social destruction to financial disaster, to failed policies of energy security, this project is a case study of what should not be done. IFC has been an active participant in this story of financial failure and environmental and social damage by rejecting the findings of its own compliance mechanism. Instead of hiding behind the safety of technical aspects of law, IFC’s focus should be on using its resources to restore the environment and livelihoods of those negatively affected by this power plant.

Download judgment: https://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Jam-Opinion-granting-2019-MTD.pdf

For background & more information: https://www.cenfa.org/projects-in-focus/tata-mundra-ultra-mega-project/

Contacts:

Dr Bharat Patel
Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan
+ 91 94264 69803
bharatp1977@gmail.com

Joe Athialy
Centre for Financial Accountability
+91 98711 53775
joe@cenfa.org

Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project: A decade of disemPOWERing communities

Almost a decade after the construction for the Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project and eight years since the operations of the project started, a revisit to Mundra tells the story of the destruction of livelihoods, environment and disempowered communities. The project was envisaged as India’s first ultra mega power project that would add two percent to total generation capacity in India and provides power to 16 million people in five states. It would also supply cost-competitive power to manufacturing industries and services. What was not assessed was how the project would impact the most marginalized communities in Mundra whose life and livelihood were based on Mundra’s unique biodiversity and ecology.

The Project:

The Project is a 4000 megawatt (MW) power station, comprising five 800MW units, in Gujarat, India. The plant was commissioned in 2012-2013 as part of the Government of India’s ambition to develop large capacity projects at the national level of 4,000 MW capacity each under tariff-based competitive bidding route using super critical technology on build, own and operate basis. A consortium of Banks including multilateral agencies and Exim Banks invested in this project, which costs US $4.14billion. Both the International Finance Corporation(IFC) and the Asian Development Bank(ADB) have put US$ 450 million each. The project since its inception has been marred with environmental and social concerns.

mundra5-1

In 2011 the fishworkers affected by the project filed a complaint with the accountability mechanism of IFC regarding the violation of IFC’s operational guidelines. A similar complaint was filed with the accountability mechanism of ADB in 2013. Despite reports by accountability mechanisms confirming the concerns of the community of largescale social and environmental damages due to the project, largely the management rejected the reports and a flawed remedial action plan was drafted; which till now has not been implemented properly. In April 2015 the fishhworkers, represented by Earth Rights International, filed a suit against IFC in federal court in Washington D.C., where the IFC is headquartered. In July 2015, the IFC filed a motion to dismiss the complaint arguing that it is entitled to “absolute immunity” from suit in US courts under the International Organization Immunities Act(IOIA). In February 2019, in a historic 7-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that international organizations like the World Bank Group do not enjoy absolute immunity, giving hope to the community to go ahead in their fight to hold IFC responsible for the damage caused to them.

 The Decade:

Ten years since the project’s construction was started, and after eight years of its operations, the fishworkers of Tragadi bandar (harbor), Kothadi bander, and Navinal, (who were impacted by the in-take and outtake channels of the project) are left on the verge of poverty. With the consistent decline in fish catch due to hot water discharge from the outlet channel, destruction of mangroves and creeks, the fishworkers are now finding it very difficult to maintain their basic living standard. During a conversation with fishworkers on Tragadi gaon, most fisworkers complained of the debt cycles they were caught in. One of the fishworkers, Jam Buddhabhai said, “We used to take loans earlier as well from the merchants who come to buy our fish but we were able to pay the loans in one fishing cycle (9 months) but for the past 3 years the cycle has been unending.” Most fishworkers have also started looking for daily wage work on days they are not fishing which is difficult for them to find as their skill and knowledge both are is of the world of the sea. mundra6-2

Another important change has been the death of pagadia (on foot) fishing. With creeks blocked and mangroves destroyed the fish closer to the sea have almost become negligible. Most of pagadia fishworkers have started working either as wage labour worker for people who own boats. Prawns and lobsters, which were found close in the creeks and mangroves, have declined drastically. Even for fishworkers who had been fishing on boats now don’t find much fish catch near the coast. They recall that in 2010 they would catch fish to capacity in a boat twice and did not have to go beyond 2 to 3 kilometers in the sea. Today, they have to venture at least 8 to10 kilometers in the sea to find fish. This has increased the input costs and the risk they have to endure for fishing. From increase in diesel cost, to having to stay put on the boat for days and not come back to save costs of fuel, risk of fishing gear damage by ships, with endless wait to find the fish catch, past ten years have left the fishworkers struggling to make their ends meet.

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Women, the Most Affected:

This decline in fish catch has left the women from fishing families in a worse condition. Women were mostly engaged in sorting, grading and drying fish once men bring the fish catch. They would also sell the certain small fish in the local market, which would contribute to their personal income. This has totally stopped. With the decline in fish catch, there is just enough for household consumption and selling to the merchants who sell for export. In Tragadi village, the fishworkers families traditionally went to Kotadi bander to stay during the fishing season. Once the in-take channel of the project was built the access route to the bander became longer. They no longer accompany menfolk to the bander now. With an increase in travel costs, the decline in fish catch and men having to be in the sea for days together to catch fish, it became difficult for women to stay at bunder. In a conversation with fishworker women in Tragadi village they feel helpless that they can’t contribute to the work or income and keep sitting at home the entire day. The quality of life, personal expenditure, movement and economic independence have all been affected. One of the girls form the community who is now 18 years old, Asifa told us, “we remember a time our mother gave us money when they would come back from markets. We all had piggy banks and our small savings, it’s been long since I have seen that in any home now.”

Farmers & herders:

The situation of the farmers and cattle rearing community is not any better. The years of operation of the plant, with in-take channel bringing seawater deeper into the land has resulted in the drastic increase in the salinity of water. This has severely affected the agriculture in the area. In our conversation with farmers from Navinal, Mota Kandagara and Siracha, with the groundwater turning saline, the farmers have to rely on rains as bore well water is no longer fit for irrigation and where people are still using bore well water for irrigation, the quality of crop has turned bad. This has not only made farming unpredictable because of uncertainty of rains but has also changed the traditional agricultural. Crops like peanuts and chiku can longer be grown. Even for crops, which are grown traditionally like cotton, dates, bajra the production has reduced and the quality deteriorated. Many farmers have just left farming, as it is no longer bringing any income. Many have just left their fields unattended and now seek daily wage labour work. Apart from that the coal dust and fly ash that settles on the crop deteriorates its quality specially cotton which becomes black in colour and dates (coal dust and fly ash allow water to settle on it which ruins the fruit). This has resulted in a steep decline in the market value of these crops. The farmers in Navinal said that, “Once our cotton crop used to fetch the same value in the market as Bhuj cotton but today, the story is different. We are paid less than half of what Bhuj farmers will get for cotton but its understandable ours is black in colour.”mundra4-4

The situation of the cattle rearing community is no different. With grazing grounds having been acquired for the project, they are left with no other option but to buy fodder for their cattle. Tata and Adani (both having acquired land for the power projects) both are providing some fodder daily for cattle but that is much less than what is required. Most of the fodder has to be purchased. Also, whatever little grazing land is available has become barren due to increase in salinity of ground water. Also, fodder which is bought from local farmers and a few grazing lands are covered with coal dust which when eaten is resulting in increased cases of cattle falling sick. Premature births, increase in mortality rate and skin infections in cattle have become common. Now in desperate situations, cattle rearers have started migrating with their cattle to other talukas (blocks) in Kutch for grazing.

Air Pollution & Effluents:

The operations of the project and the conveyor belt have resulted in increase in air pollution in the region. Respiratory disorders have become common. The air pollutant display machine outside the plant is always switched off in spite of it being mandatory for them to display pollution levels at all times. Fishworkes also have to face severe skin infections. Chemical water discharge from outlet channel has caused severe skin infections in fishworkers due to long exposure chemical hot water discharge. Salinity increase has also impacted the drinking water, which has also become saline. Even though Tata provides tankers at Tragadi bander and an RO plant in Navinal village, this is not sufficient. Most people have to buy water from tankers or if they cannot afford it they mix ground water with little drinking water that is provided to meet the water requirement. Cases of kidney stones and joint pains have become common among the population consuming water with such high salinity levels. mundra2-5

Given this situation of the communities impacted by the project, it is only ironic that on its official page, IFC states that, “CGPL’s community outreach initiatives focus on improving education and healthcare, increasing access to safe drinking water and energy, natural resource management, and infrastructure improvement. The initiatives also focus on improving income generation and livelihood opportunities, empowering women, enabling access to government development schemes, and strengthening community based institutions.”

After pushing people to poverty, depleting and destroying their livelihood, damaging the marine environment, being responsible for increased pollution levels and taking away the economic independence of women these claims seem nothing but disingenuous. This project is a classic example of a failed due diligence and economic assessment with the project also running into losses. With enough measures for the rescue to the company, it is the project-affected community that has been at the receiving end of the forced development.

AIIB’s newly wrapped ESG investments

AIIB’s newly wrapped ESG investments: Asia ESG Enhanced Credit Managed Portfolio Project

After fifty investments being approved and many more in pipeline, along with much criticism against India’s Infrastructure Fund [IIF], National Infrastructure Investment Fund [NIIF], IFC Emerging Asia Fund and Asia Investment Fund, two months ago a new partnership has been announced by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank [AIIB] with UK’s Aberdeen Standard Investments [ASI] for AIIB’s Asia ESG Enhanced Credit Managed Portfolio Project.

As part of their initiative ‘Sustainable Capital Market’, under which this portfolio is categorised, AIIB intends to promote investments in corporate, green and quasi-sovereign bonds in infrastructure related sectors in Asia. Announced to boost ESG investment and with the target of returns at a rate of 5-7%, these bonds would be screened, assessed and managed on ESG principles laid down by the AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework and managed by ASI who is globally the leading asset manager in ESG investments. ESG score, according to AIIB and ASI, would be created using information provided by corporates and third party rating providers.

According to AIIB, it will evaluate among other factors, a firm’s trajectory and its willingness to improve its ESG standards, once they benefit from this fund. Their framework is also designed for AIIB to engage when triggers such as firm’s reputational risks or strategy shifts happen and put the securities of these firms under watchlist. Meanwhile, ASI believes that conditions are “ripe” globally for investments in Asia over the next five to ten years, since “influential asset owners” have already started making the transition to ESG investments. AIIB also intends to invite other financial actors like insurance firms, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to invest in this portfolio once it is established.

What are ESG Funds?

Funds which claim to have environment social and governance aspects reinforcing all their investment activities are broadly called ESG investments or funds. Originally launched by the mutual funds industry, ESG funds have sustainability as the generally underlying theme. Under SEBI’s guidelines, these funds come under thematic funds and focuses on non-financial actors like environment, climate, impact investing, best practices, resource efficiency, employment, supply chain issues, governance etc. to try to manage a firm’s strengths and weaknesses. In short, these funds invest in stocks of companies that has no reported violations of environment damage and social risks. An elaborate list would be – water, waste, plastics, circular economy, biodiversity, deforestation, toxic emissions, pollution, clean energy, carbon footprinting, decarbonisation, transition economy, energy efficiency, working conditions, health & safety, equal opportunities, staff retention, training & development, labour relations, talent retention, collective bargaining, modern slavery, child labour, supply chain issues, inequality, lack of access to resources, land rights, food & nutrition, data privacy, community relations, anti-bribery & corruption, audit issues, board balance, board diversity, remuneration, business ethics, director independence, shareholder rights, accountability, cyber security and tax.

There are also ESG assessment reports published annually by Principles for Responsible Investment [PRI], which is a voluntary self-regulation platform formed in 2006 by corporate and financial actors. PRI is endorsed by UNEP Finance Initiative and UN Global Impact. According to their website, “the six principles for responsible investment are a voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice.” Reporting is done through the assessment reports based on self-defined criteria and indices as part of ongoing learning and development. The report also documents ESG indicators covering asset classes like farmland, forestry, infrastructure, equity funds, hedge funds etc. The irony is these principles were created by the investors themselves and more than 2000 companies have signed, including the top ten leading global investment companies. There has been attempts to integrate ESG investments in real estate industry as well, since ever increasing rampant infrastructure projects directly involve capital, labour and especially land intensive activities. In India, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Co. Ltd was the first asset management company to sign PRI in April 2018.

India’s first ESG fund was launched early this year by Avendus Capital Public Market Alternate Strategies. Avendus Capital, which already manages India’s largest hedge fund, seeks to raise USD 1 billion through international and national market for their Avendus India ESG fund to invest in listed equity companies. Among the members of their advisory panel is former Deputy Governor of RBI, Dr. Rakesh Mohan.

SBI Mutual Fund renamed its SBI Magnum Equity Fund to SBI Magnum Equity ESG fund which became first ESG Mutual fund of India. Three months ago, Quantum Mutual Fund launched India’s first ESG Equity fund, Quantum India ESG Equity Fund. National Stock Exchange has also introduced NIFTY 100 ESG and NIFTY 100 Enhanced ESG indices, and Bombay Stock Exchange has S&P BSE ESG index, as thematic indices.

Yet another evasive investment of AIIB

With its founding principle of being a clean, green and lean multilateral development bank, AIIB has always been under the scathing review of civil society and peoples’ groups for non-compliance to its own policies and for the aggressive pace of investments which they package in different ornamentations such as their founding principles and as a friendly bank from the global south.

While it is seemingly appreciable that firms are made to adhere to such standards in this particular ESG credit portfolio, the larger picture is strikingly clear – funds and investments are now packaged under the semblance of ESG to make it more attractive and investible for private players. We have been stunned earlier by observing multilateral development banks recklessly aiding the wealth extraction of private players through many such funds, policy influences and reputational privileges in the name of development projects globally. We have seen them sans any accountability also with huge funds channelled through financial intermediaries which does not require disclosures yet.

AIIB’s recent investments in India were approved last month which focus on financing renewable energy, power transmission & distribution and water infrastructure construction projects in India – the Tata Cleantech Sustainable Infrastructure On-Lending Facility with financing plan of USD 75 million and the L&T Green Infrastructure On-Lending Facility with USD 100 million. Both claim to increase the supply of renewable energy through mobilizing private capital investments in order to align Government of India’s plan to reduce carbon intensity under the Paris agreement. Objections have been raised and it is known that AIIB’s ESF policy itself is under review. It is nonsensical that they continue expanding, not just with 100 member countries but with investments already loaned out to the tune of USD 9.64 billion in a span of four years, while in the process of getting their policies and directives in place! And talk about not having a robust ESF system in place, while the larger and older MDBs like World Bank and IFC continue conducting periodic reviews of their robust policies!

And here we are, repeatedly manipulated with the branding and wrapping these funds are allowed to come in to our country, now robed with ‘ESG’. This is just another contriving moment for AIIB with the initial USD 500 million tied to the bandwagon, beginning to exploit this new ‘investible’ ‘green’ opportunity.

AIIB’s Opaque Policies Under the Garb of Green Investments

AIIB has come under severe criticism over its opaque policies with regards to Financial intermediary (FI) investments as well as its over-reliance on and delegation of power to the FI client. AIIB currently has 3 active FI projects out of 10 approved projects and one in the pipeline. Of the three, Indian Infrastructure Fund was approved in 2017, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund was approved in 2018, and L&T Green Infrastructure On–Lending Facility was approved in 2019. Another project in the pipeline is Tata Cleantech Sustainable Infrastructure On-Lending Facility, which is in waiting for board approval.

The common thread in all these projects is their objective to mobilise private capital for investments in subprojects that will support an increased supply of renewable energy generation. This would also include support for large renewable energy projects. Another common thread is an absolute lack of information on any of the sub-projects of these FI investments, even for the ones that were approved two years back.

Currently, in the Indian context the central government has claimed there would be 40,000 MW capacity in solar parks by March 2022, twice as high as the earlier target. This target means solar parks alone would contribute to 40% of India’s installed solar capacity in the next three years. The government has so far approved 42 solar parks with a capacity of 23,449 MW. Some of the parks have a proposed capacity of less than 500 MW[5]. There have already been concerns regarding solar sector being pushed for land-intensive utility-scale projects rather than focus on decentralized, rooftop or building-integrated small-scale solar. There has been slow progress in the governments over-ambitious and unsustainable plans of setting up solar parks owing to land acquisition issues. Solar parks in Bhadla (Rajasthan), Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) and Pavagada (Karnataka) are hosts to over 2 gigawatts (GW) solar parks have already seen protests on issues of land acquisition. In an article, Priya Sreenivasan for Down to earth points out that, “Most parks, developed by nodal

Government agencies identify low-yield land and lease it from the farmers on 25-to 28-year-agreements, a win-win situation for everyone involved as the farmer has a steady flow of income. But in practice, the land acquired by developers isn’t always “barren”. With no clear penalties and regulations that draw the line on land quality, fertile cultivable land is often procured to build solar power plants.[6] ”

In this context, it would not be incorrect to assume that there is a high probability of AIIB finance being invested in some of the big Solar Projects through its FI investment which seems to focus around large renewable also. With its current non-transparent policies, lack of information on projects, are we heading for the same disastrous that we have seen in India with FI projects funded by IFC in the past. It almost seems that these institutions have not learned lessons from their predecessor institutions like IFC whose support through FI investment to a coal-fired power plant GMR Kamalanga Energy Ltd, a company set up to develop and operate a large coal-fired power plant near Kamalanga village in Odisha, led to the first FI complaint ever with their accountability mechanism. This complaint had far-reaching implications with regards to policy changes. Today, IFC discloses information depending on the type of FI client.

AIIB currently does not include information about sub-projects funded through any client FIs on its website. No information at all is publicly available on the sub-projects supported by the three FIs in India. This leaves potentially affected communities in the dark about their rights to know both who is behind the project affecting them, and that the AIIB’s E&S standards should be applied. AIIB also delegates decision-making around risk classification and E&S management entirely to the FIs in which it invests. One of the defences of the AIIB management has been using to questions raised by civil society on lack of information with regards to FI has been the support for green investments. Is renewable now being used as a language for justifying lack of transparency and information? There are two important concerns at hand here:

  1. Transparency and accountability is not a choice. It is the basic set of principle for any financial institution needs to comply with when making investments, especially for development projects.
  2. The assumption of renewable projects not having any environmental and social implications is problematic. Large projects have impacts on land, ecosystems and environment even if they are renewable. In countries like India, where land remains the main source of livelihood, lack of stringent, transparent policies will end up in the same trap as for fossil fuel-based energy projects. Land acquisition and loss of commons remain issues of concern for community, and lack of information on projects will raise questions regarding the projects’ development effectiveness even if it is a renewable energy project.

It is time that institutions like AIIB stop using excuses to be non-transparent and unaccountable. Accountability and transparency are non-negotiable values for institutions and especially for institutions form the Global South where communities have faced repercussions and have put up a fight against the opaque policies of Multilateral Development Banks like the World Bank Group.

Inspection Panel’s Report on Amaravati Project only Validates the Issues Raised by CSOs

For immediate release

Inspection Panel’s Report on Amaravati Project only Validates the Issues Raised by CSOs

July 26, 2019: Confirming the concerns raised by the communities and civil society organisations, Government of India withdrew its request from the World Bank for financing Amaravati Capital City Project to save itself from an investigation by Bank’s accountability mechanism – the Inspection Panel. It was confirmed by the report– dated March 23, 2019 – released by the Panel on July 23, 2019. An investigation into the project would have brought to the fore the monumental violations of Bank’s policies vis-à-vis social and environmental, as was in the case of Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) dam and Tata Mundra projects in the past. This confirms that Government of India is aware of and want to hide the violations due to the irresponsible execution of the project.

In its final report, which was published on July 23, 2019, Inspection Panel, while noticing multiple violations and lapses in the World Bank-funded project, had stressed for the need to have detailed investigation.

WGonIFIS, a collective of over 90 people’s movements and civil society organisations from across India, demand that the Government of India and the Government of Andhra Pradesh immediately conduct an independent review of the Amaravati Capital City project to look into the socio-economic damage, land transactions and psychological trauma witnessed by agricultural, coastal, and pastoral labourers, tenants, landless families, and the most vulnerable communities due to the land acquisition and displacement process.

An independent enquiry and prompt action on the findings will deliver justice to people who otherwise, with the Bank management, central and state governments and the investigating agency Inspection Panel have conveniently washed off their hands, the affected communities are yet to receive justice and strong response to their call for accountability.

Summary of the Panel’s report:

The Inspection Panel, which visited the Amaravati Capital City site to “carry out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related potential noncompliance with livelihood restoration requirements of the Bank’s Involuntary Resettlement Policy,” had submitted its ‘Third Report and  Recommendation  on India:  Amaravati Sustainable  Infrastructure  and Institutional  Development Project’  to the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank on March 29, 2019.

The Panel in its report pointed economic displacement; uncertainties regarding livelihood restoration of both landless labourers and landowners; lack of specificity of Project documents; strong assertions of the complainants and Bank Management; timeliness of implementation of Master plan; immediate assistance to the most vulnerable families; and lack of cohesive data and methodology of independent assessment and third party monitoring report.

The Panel observed, “It is important that people not only have access to temporary jobs but obtain more long-term income-generating opportunities to ensure livelihood restoration, which is the ultimate objective of the Bank’s involuntary resettlement policy”. The Panel also expressed concerns about the delay in addressing the needs of 21,374 landless labourer households, who lost their source of income about four years ago.

Recognising that the Land Pooling Scheme at this scale has never been implemented anywhere in the world and that this may be established as a model for similar initiatives in future, the Panel emphasised the need to investigate the harms. Though the Management asserted that LPS farmers have received adequate compensation, the Panel questioned whether it is possible to establish with certainty that the compensation meets replacement value and noted that the affected landowners will bear the ultimate financial risk.

The documents of Bank’s Management on the exact implementation of the livelihood restoration lacked specificity. The Panel also noted that the Project documents do not refer to a labour market analysis assessing future jobs that will be created in the new city and the skills necessary to match these jobs. The Panel observed “about 45 per cent of Project Affected Persons within the footprint of the Bank-financed roads are illiterate, and many have farmed their whole lives. Therefore, they may lack financial literacy, as well as business and investment know-how, to successfully avail themselves of this alternative.” Moreover, the Panel stressed that the larger concern of drastic ‘imposed’ social change during the lifestyle transition from rural, farm-based livelihoods to urban non-farming livelihood inherently involves a high risk of impoverishment.

While the Panel acknowledged that the implementation of the Bank Project has not yet started, the Panel remarked that the design of the Project is based on government activities and the welfare schemes that are already under implementation and have encountered certain challenges. And, these challenges may continue under Bank Project implementation.

Though the complainants, activists, peoples’ groups and CSOs had always raised other larger issues of this flawed project – namely lack of consultation and participation of affected people, multi-crop fertile lands getting converted to urban concrete jungles, food security issues, and most importantly coercion and intimidation by the previous government and the police, and at many instances by landlords too – all of these are shelved aside in the Panel’s report explaining the rectifying actions and project design by the Bank Management.

As the World Bank is no longer financing the project, the Panel updated its report and withdrew its recommendation to investigate the project. However, it is noteworthy that the Panel’s reports majorly relies on three reports: World Bank’s Independent Assessment on Land Pooling; Crisil’s note on Land Pooling Scheme for Development of Amaravati; and the Third-Party monitoring report of Vasavya Mahila Mandal, an NGO which deals with the grievance redressal mechanism of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA). Despite multiple requests for accessing the reports, these reports have not been made public.

About the Project: 

After bifurcation of the erstwhile Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, both the new states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh decided to share Hyderabad as capital for ten years. In September 2014, N Chandrababu Naidu, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh announced Amaravati as the proposed capital city, to be developed over many years. The World Bank and AIIB were under consideration to finance the USD 715 million project.

Even in its risk assessment, World Bank had assigned this Project category A, signifying the social and environmental impacts. The project was criticised for building the city on the floodplains of river Krishna, diverting fertile farmlands and forests, displacing around 20,000 families, forcefully acquiring lands, and favouring contractors for the construction of the city. A complaint with the Inspection panel (Independent accountability mechanism) of the World Bank has been filed by the affected community in 2017 to investigate the project for violation of the World Bank’s safeguard policies. This complaint was under process, and the Board of the Bank was waiting for the recommendation on the eligibility of investigation from the Inspection Panel.

For more info: Encroachment of Nature, People and Livelihoods: A Case of the Abusive, Greedy and Failing Amaravati Capital City (2014-2019)

More information about the project also available here.

Contact details:

  1. Tani Alex
    Centre for Financial Accountability
    +91 96500 15701
    tani@cenfa.org
  2. Ankit Agrawal
    Working Group on IFIs
    +91 95603 61801
    wgonifis@gmail.com

विश्व बैंक के बाद, एशियन इन्फ्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक ने अपना निवेश अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना से वापस लिया

प्रेस रिलीज | २३ जुलाई २०१९

विश्व बैंक के बाद, एशियन इन्फ्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक ने अपना निवेश अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना से वापस लिया 

चीन के नेतृत्व वाले एशियन इन्फ्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक (AIIB) ने आंध्र प्रदेश के अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना से हाथ खींच लिए है। विश्व बैंक द्वारा पिछले सप्ताह अमरावती परियोजना से अपना निवेश वापस लेने के बाद इसके प्रवक्ता लॉरेल ओस्टफील्ड द्वारा यह निर्णय एक समाचार एजेंसी को संप्रेषित किया गया।

एआईआईबी कुल $715 मिलियन की परियोजना में से $200 मिलियन के वित्तपोषण पर विचार कर रहा था, जबकि विश्व बैंक $ 300 मिलियन पर विचार कर रहा था।

चार साल पुराने एआईआईबी ने इससे पहले कभी भी किसी परियोजना से अपना निवेश वापस नहीं लिया है।

समाचार एजेंसी रॉयटर्स ने लॉरेल ओस्टफील्ड के द्वारा कहा, “एआईआईबी अब फंडिंग के लिए अमरावती सस्टेनेबल इन्फ्रास्ट्रक्चर एंड इंस्टीट्यूशनल डेवलपमेंट प्रोजेक्ट पर विचार नहीं कर रहा है।” एआईआईबी इस परियोजना को केवल एक सह-वित्तदाता के रूप में देख रहा था और इसमें विश्व बैंक की सुरक्षा नीतियों का पालन करना था। विश्वबैंक केपरियोजना से बाहर निकलने के फैसले के बाद, एआईआईबी के इस फैसले पर गहरी निगाह रखी जा रही थी।

इस परियोजना के कारण हुए भूमि अधिग्रहण और विस्थापन के गंभीर दबाव और भय के कारण हुए सामाजिक-आर्थिक नुकसान से हज़ारोंमजदूरों, किरायेदारों, भूमिहीन परिवारों, एवं दलितों समुदाय के लोगों को नुक़सान पहुँचा है। इन मुद्दों के साथ ही परियोजना की वित्तीय गैर-व्यवहार्यता और स्वैच्छिक भूमि-पूलिंग के नाम पर उपजाऊ भूमि के बड़े पैमाने पर हुए कब्जे को जनांदलोंऔर नागरिक समाज संगठनों ने सरकार, एआईआईबी व विश्व बैंक के समक्ष कई बार  उठाया गया।

वर्किंग ग्रुप ऑन इंटरनेशनल फाइनेंशियल इंस्टीट्यूशंस (WGonIFI) और अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी प्रोजेक्ट के प्रभावित समुदाय एआईआईबी केइस फैसले का स्वागत करते हैं और इसे उन लोगों की जीत के रूप में मानते हैंजो प्रशासन के भय और दबाव एवं वित्तीय संस्थानों की उपेक्षा के बावजूद अपने हक के लिए खड़े रहे।

“जैसा कि हमने नर्मदा बांध परियोजना के मामले में देखा है, किसी भी परियोजना मे विश्व बैंक का वित्तपोषण अन्य द्विपक्षीय और बहुपक्षिय एजेंसियों को भी साथ ले आता है जिनमे से प्रत्येक स्वतंत्र रूप से बिना उचित वैधानिक प्रक्रिया के काम करते है। वित्तीय संस्थानों और तंत्रों के बीच यह गठजोड़ मजबूत हो रहा है और जैसा कि हमने अमरावती परियोजना के मामले में देखा है, लोगो की एकजुटता एवं वैज्ञानिक तथ्य ही उन्हें झुका सकते हैं,” नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन एवं नेशनल एलियान्स आफ पीपलस मूवमेंट की वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता मेधा पाटकर ने कहा।

विश्व बैंक ने दूसरे दिन एक बयान जारी कर कहा था कि यह भारत सरकार ही थी जिसने उधार देने के अनुरोध को वापस ले लिया, जो की याद दिलाता है कि 1992 में सरदार सरोवर (नर्मदा) बांध के मामले में भी सरकार ने 27 साल पहले यही किया था। मोर्स कमेटी द्वारा सरदार सरोवर परियोजना पर एक गंभीर रिपोर्ट के बाद विश्व बैंक ने जोर देकर कहा था कि भारत सरकार को पुनर्वास एवं और पर्यावरण सुरक्षा उपायों की सख्त शर्तों को पूरा करना होगा। बैंक ने यह जांचने के लिए एक टीम को भारत भेजा ताकि शेष $170 मिलियन ऋण का भुगतान करने से पहले यह देख सके कि इन शर्तों को पूरा किया गया है या नहीं। समय सीमा से ठीक एक दिन पहले – 31 मार्च, 1992 – को बैंक ने घोषणा की कि भारत ने अपने दम सरदार सरोवर परियोजना का निर्माण कार्य पूरा करने का फैसला किया है।

अमरावती के मामले में, विश्व बैंक की स्वतंत्र जवाबदेही तंत्र के निरीक्षण पैनल को अमरावती परियोजना की जांच पर अपना निर्णय देने के एक हफ़्ते पहले भारत सरकार ने अपना अनुरोध वापस ले लिया था।

“विश्व बैंक के बाद अब एआईआईबी ने इस परियोजना से हाथ खींच लिया,यह लोगो की एक बड़ी कामयाबी है। भारत सरकार द्वारा बैंक से अनुरोध वापस लेने की तकनीकी केवल एक झांसा है। चंद्रबाबू नायडू की सरकार मे विश्व बैंकके निरीक्षण पैनल द्वारा एक संभावित जांच से कई उल्लंघन एवं किसानों पर हुए ज़ुल्म और अन्याय का खुलासा हुआ होगा,”आर्थिक और सामाजिक अध्ययन केंद्र, हैदराबाद के प्रोफेसर रामचंद्रैयाने कहा।

बड़ी संख्या में लोगों के आंदोलनों, विशेषज्ञों और नागरिक समाज संगठनों की एकजुटता और समर्थन के बिना यह जीत संभव नहीं थी। “दो बड़े वित्तीय दिग्गजों का इस पर्यावरण और सामाजिक रूप से विनाशकारी परियोजना से बाहर निकलना – लोगों, नागरिक, समाज, संगठनों एवं  कार्यकर्ताओं के लिए एक बड़ी जीत है जो पिछले चार वर्षों से विभिन्न मंचों पर इस परियोजना को लगातार चुनौती दे रहे हैं। इन वित्तीय संस्थानों को यह महसूस करने का समय आ गया है कि अगर ये संस्थान विनाशकारी परियोजनाओं को अलोकतांत्रिक और अन्यायपूर्ण तरीके से वित्त देने के पालन जारी रखेंगे तो लोग उनके खिलाफ सामूहिक आवाज उठाएंगे, और जीतेंगे,” अनुराधा मुंशी, सेंटर फॉर फाइनेंसियल अकाउंटेबिलिटी।

WGonIFIs राज्य सरकार से मांग करता है कि,

  1. केंद्रीय भूमि अधिग्रहण और पुनर्वास कानून, 2013के विसंगत CRDA भूमि अधिग्रहण अधिनियम, CRDA प्राधिकरण और संबंधित अधिसूचना को खारिज किया जाए और अमरावती राजधानी क्षेत्रके सभी प्रभावितों के मामले में केंद्रीय कानून को पूर्ण रूप से लागू किया जाए। इसके साथ सरकार द्वारा बिना सहमति ली गई सभी जमीन को वापस लोगों को दिया जाए।
  2. किसानों, तटीय समुदायों, खेतिहर मजदूरों, बटायेदारों, भूमिहीन परिवारों, जिनको जमीन अधिग्रहण और विस्थापन के दौरान अत्यंत पीड़ा और भय-व्याप्त समय से गुजरना पड़ा, उनको हुए सामाजिक-आर्थिक नुकसान, जमीन के मामले और मानसिक प्रताड़ना की न्यायिक जांच की जाए।
  3. पिछले पांच वर्षों में सामाजिक जीवन को पहुंचे नुकसान को देखते हुए दलित और दूसरे निर्दिष्ट भू-मालिकों के लिए विशेष मुआवजे की घोषणा की जाए।
  4. राजधानी क्षेत्र की घोषणा के बाद सक्रिय हुए दलालों, जो दलितों और निर्दिष्ट भू-मालिकों की जमीन खरीदने की प्रक्रिया में शामिल थे, के ऊपर सख्त कार्यवाही की जाए।
  5. दलित किसानों को दस्तावेजों में धांधली कर उन्हें बेदखल करने की कोशिशों को रोका जाए और सभी दलित किसानों को, जिनका जमीन पर वास्तविक कब्ज़ा है, उन्हें 2013 के कानून अनुसार मुआवजा, पुनर्स्थापन और पुनर्वास के लिए वास्तविक भू-मालिक माना जाए।

परियोजना के बारे में:
जून, 2014 में पूर्व के आंध्र प्रदेश राज्य के बँटवारे के बाद, दोनों राज्य, तेलंगाना और आंध्र प्रदेश ने हैदराबाद को राजधानी के रूप में अगले 10 वर्षों तक रखने का फैसला किया। उसी वर्ष सितम्बर में चंद्रबाबू नायडू, आंध्र प्रदेश के पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री, ने अमरावती को नए राजधानी शहर के रूप में बनाने की घोषणा की। विश्व बैंक और AIIB, इस परियोजना के लिए $715 मिलियन वित्त प्रदान करने पर विचार कर रही थी।

इसके प्रभाव आंकलन में भी इसके सामाजिक और पर्यावरणीय प्रभावों को देखते हुए विश्व बैंक ने इस परियोजना को A केटेगरी प्रदान की थी । कृष्णा नदी घाटी के ऊपर बनाए जाने के लिए, उपजाऊ खेती की भूमि और जंगलों के विनाश, 20000 से अधिक परिवारों को विस्थापित करने, जबरन भूमि अधिग्रहण, और शहर निर्माण में मनचाहे ठेकेदारों को ठेका देने के कारण यह परियोजना बेहद विवादित रही है। 2017 में विश्व बैंक के जवाबदेही तंत्र के ‘इंस्पेक्शन पैनल’ में प्रभावितों ने शिकायत की और विश्व बैंक के नियमों के उल्लंघनों की जांच के लिए कहा। यह शिकायत अभी प्रक्रिया में थी और बैंक की बोर्ड, इंस्पेक्शन पैनल द्वारा इसकी जांच करने के लिए प्रस्ताव का इंतज़ार कर रही थी।

अधिक जानकारी के लिए इस लिंक पर जायें: Encroachment of Nature, People and Livelihoods: A Case of the Abusive, Greedy and Failing Amaravati Capital City (2014-2019)

परियोजना के बारे में जानकारी यहाँ भी उपलब्ध है। 

संपर्क विवरण:

  1. जी रोहित
    मानवाधिकार मंच, आंध्र प्रदेश
    gutta.rohithbunny@gmail.com
    +91 99852 50777
  2. मीरा संघमित्रा
    नेशनल एलाएंसे ऑफ पीपलस मूवमेंट
    +91 73374 78993
    reachmeeranow@gmail.com
  3. टैनी एलेक्स
    शोधकर्ता, सेंटर फॉर फाइनेंसियल अकाउंटेबिलिटी
    +91 96500 15701
    tani@cenfa.org

After World Bank, AIIB Pulls Out of Amaravati Capital City Project

Press Release | July 23, 2019

After the World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Pulls Out of Amaravati Capital City Project

New Delhi: The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) pulled out of Amaravati Capital City Project in Andhra Pradesh. This decision, communicated by its spokesperson Laurel Ostfield to a news agency, follows the decision of the World Bank – a co-financier of the project – last week to pull out from the project.

AIIB was considering financing $200 mn out of the total $715 mn project while World Bank was considering $300 mn.

Never before did the four-year-old AIIB have to drop a project which they were considering for financing.

The news agency Reuters quoted Laurel Ostfield, “AIIB is no longer considering the Amaravati Sustainable Infrastructure and Institutional Development Project for funding.” AIIB was considering this project only as a co-financier and was to adhere to the World Bank’s safeguard policies in this project. After the Bank’s decision to exit from the project, AIIB’s decision on this was being keenly watched.

The monumental violations resulting out of the socio-economic damages, land transactions affecting thousands of agricultural, coastal, and pastoral labourers, tenants, landless families, dalits who have undergone severe pressure and fear due to the land acquisition and displacement process, financial non-viability, massive land-grabbing of the fertile land in the name of voluntary land-pooling were raised time and again with the government and both AIIB and World Bank by affected communities, people’s movements and civil society organisations.

Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs) and the affected communities of the Amaravati Capital City Project welcome the decision and consider this as a victory of the people who despite intimidation and coercion from the administration, and indifference from financial institutions, stood their ground.

“World Bank funding to any project brings in other bi-lateral and muti-lateral financing agencies without each one of them independently doing due-diligence, as we have seen in the case of the Narmada dam project. This nexus between financial institutions and mechanisms are strengthening, and only people united and scientific facts can make them bow down, as we have seen in the case of Amaravati project,” Medha Patkar, senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan and National Alliance of People’s Movements said.

World Bank had issued a statement the other day saying that it was the Government of India which withdrew the request for lending, reminding one of what the government did in the case of Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) dam in 1992, 27 years back. After a scathing report on SSP by Morse Committee, the Bank insisted that the Indian government must meet tough conditions – mostly on R&R and environmental safeguards. The Bank planned to send a team to India to check that the government had fulfilled these conditions before paying the remaining $170 million of the loan. On the day before the deadline – March 31, 1992 – the Bank announced that India had ‘decided to complete construction work on its own’.

In this case, a week before the independent accountability mechanism of World Bank, the Inspection Panel is to deliver its decision on the investigation into the Amaravati project, Government of India withdrew its request.

“AIIB pulling out of the project after World Bank is a great victory for the people. The technicality of Govt of India withdrawing the request from the Bank is only hogwash. A probable investigation by the Inspection Panel would have revealed several violations and methods of coercion and unjust use/deployment of force on the farmers by Chandrababu Naidu’s government,” said Prof. Ramachandraiah, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad.

This victory would not have been possible without the solidarity and support of a large number of people’s movements, experts and civil society organisations. “This exit of two big financial giants from this environmentally and socially disastrous project is a victory of people, civil society organisations, activists who have been relentlessly challenging this project at various fora for the past four years. It is time for these financial institutions to realise that people will raise a collective voice against them, and will win if these institutions continue to follow undemocratic and unjust ways to finance disastrous projects,” said Anuradha Munshi, Centre for Financial Accountability.

WGonIFIs reiterates its demand to the State government that it should:

  1. Scrap the CRDA Land Pooling Act, CRDA authorities and notifications passed subsequently, which are inconsistent with the 2013 Central Act and fully implement the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in the case of all the affected people of Amaravati Capital Region. Also, the government should return the plots that were taken involuntarily from the people.
  2. Initiate a Judicial enquiry into the socio-economic damage, land transactions and psychological trauma of agricultural, coastal, and pastoral labourers, tenants, landless families, Dalits who have undergone severe pressure and fear, due to the land acquisition and displacement process.
  3. Announce a Special Compensation Package for Dalits and other assigned landholders as their social life has been damaged to a great extent in the past five years.
  4. Prosecute brokers, real estate agents and other persons who purchased or facilitated the purchase of assigned lands after the announcement of Capital Region.
  5. Stop attempts to de-list dalit farmers from records through dubious documentary manipulation and consider all dalit cultivators in possession of the land as the original owners of the land for purposes of compensation and R&R under the 2013 Act.

About the Project: 

After bifurcation of the erstwhile Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, both the new states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh decided to share Hyderabad as capital for ten years. In September 2014, N Chandrababu Naidu, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh announced Amaravati as the proposed capital city, to be developed over many years. The World Bank and AIIB were under consideration to finance the USD 715 million project.

Even in its risk assessment, World Bank had assigned this Project category A, signifying the social and environmental impacts. The project was criticised for building the city on the floodplains of river Krishna, diverting fertile farmlands and forests, displacing around 20,000 families, forcefully acquiring lands, and favouring contractors for the construction of the city. A complaint with the Inspection panel (Independent accountability mechanism) of the World Bank has been filed by the affected community in 2017 to investigate the project for violation of the World Bank’s safeguard policies. This complaint was under process, and the Board of the Bank was waiting for the recommendation on the eligibility of investigation from the Inspection Panel.

For more info: Encroachment of Nature, People and Livelihoods: A Case of the Abusive, Greedy and Failing Amaravati Capital City (2014-2019)

More information about the project also available here.

Contact details:

  1. G. Rohith
    Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh
    gutta.rohithbunny@gmail.com
    +91 99852 50777
  2. Meera Sanghamitra
    National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements
    +91 73374 78993
    reachmeeranow@gmail.com
  3. Tani Alex
    Researcher, Centre for Financial Accountability
    +91 96500 15701
    tani@cenfa.org

विश्व बैंक ने अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना से हाथ खींचा, लोगों को मिली बड़ी सफ़लता

विश्व बैंक ने अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना से हाथ खींचा,

लोगों को मिली बड़ी सफ़लता

प्रेस विज्ञप्ति | 20 जुलाई, 2019

एक बड़े ऐतिहासिक कदम, जिसका प्रभाव कई स्तर पर देखने को मिलेगा, उठाते हुए कल विश्व बैंक ने आंध्र प्रदेश के अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना में $300 मिलियन का क़र्ज़ देने से इनकार कर दिया। 

इस फैसले का वर्किंग ग्रुप ऑन इंटरनेशनल फाइनेंसियल इंस्टिट्यूशन (WGonIFIs) और परियोजना से प्रभावित समुदायों ने जोरदार सराहना की। पिछले कुछ वर्षों से कई जन आंदोलनों और नागरिक संगठनों से आपत्ति प्राप्त करने और बैंक के जवाबदेही तंत्र ‘इंस्पेक्शन पैनल’ को प्रभावित समुदायों द्वारा मिले शिकायतों के बाद बैंक ने यह फैसला लिया है। 

इस फैसले पर मेधा पाटकर, नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन और जन आंदोलनों का राष्ट्रीय समन्वय (NAPM) की वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता, ने कहा कि हमें खुशी है कि विश्व बैंक ने अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना में शामिल व्यापक उल्लंघनों का संज्ञान लिया। यह परियोजना लोगों की आजीविका और वातावरण के लिए एक बड़ा खतरा रही  है। नर्मदा और टाटा मुंद्रा के बाद, यह विश्व बैंक समूह के खिलाफ लोगों की तीसरी बड़ी जीत है। हमें खुशी है कि नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन के संघर्ष के कारण बनाए गए ‘इंस्पेक्शन पैनल’ ने यहां अपनी महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई। आज जब हम लोगों के संघर्ष और उनकी जीत का जश्न मना रहे हैं, वो लोग जो राज्य की धमकियों और आतंक के खिलाफ खड़े रहते है, तब हम सरकार और वित्तीय संस्थानों को भी चेतावनी देते हुए बताना चाहते हैं कि बिना लोगों की सहमति के अपने एजेंडे को आगे ना बढ़ाये।

2014 में जब अमरावती कैपिटल सिटी परियोजना की संकल्पना की गई, तभी से पर्यावरण विशेषज्ञों, नागरिक संगठनों और जन आंदोलनों ने परियोजना में सामाजिक और पर्यावरणीय कानूनों के गंभीर उल्लंघन, वित्तीय अस्थिरता, स्वैच्छिक भूमि-पूलिंग के नाम पर उपजाऊ भूमि के बड़े पैमाने पर जबरन कब्ज़ा होने का विरोध दर्ज किया | इन विरोधों और लोगों की आवाज़ दबाने के लिए शिकायतकर्ताओं को पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा खुली धमकी दी जाती रही थी।

कैपिटल रीजन फार्मर्स फेडरेशन के मल्लेला शेषगिरी राव ने कहा, “हमारी जमीन और आजीविका के ऊपर अनिश्चितता के बादल मंडराने लगे थे। इस डर और चिंता ने हमारी आँखों से नींद छीन ली थी। इस संघर्ष ने हमारे जीवन में ऐसी जगह बना ली है जिसे हम कभी भूल नहीं सकते हैं। हमें यह पूरी उम्मीद है कि विश्व बैंक के इस परियोजना से बाहर निकलने से राज्य और अन्य देनदारों को एक बड़ा संदेश जाएगा और वो ईमानदारी और प्रतिबद्धता के साथ लोगों की चिंताओं का संज्ञान लेंगे।“

परियोजना से जुड़े एक अन्य सह-वित्तदाता एशियन इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक (एआईआईबी) ने खुद को प्रसिद्द पेरिस एग्रीमेंट के बाद के समय में उभरते बैंक के रूप में पेश करते हुए जाहिर किया है कि वह जलवायु परिवर्तन और इसके संकटों से निपटने के लिए प्रतिबद्ध है। लेकिन अभी भी यह परियोजना उनके आधिकारिक दस्तावेजों में विचाराधीन परियोजना के रूप में मौजूद है और दस्तावेज के मुताबिक़ एआईआईबी को इस परियोजना में केवल एक सह-वित्तदाता के रूप में दर्ज किया गया है। जिसका इस्तेमाल कर के एआईआईबी ने इस परियोजना में विश्व बैंक की नीतियों का उपयोग किया है, लेकिन अब विश्व बैंक के इस परियोजना से बाहर आने के बाद एआईआईबी की सह-वित्तदाता के रूप में स्थिति अस्पष्ट है।

“एक अच्छे बदलाव के लिए, सकारात्मक सोच ने बैंक को इस विनाशकारी कार्यक्रम से हटने के निर्णय लेने पर विवश किया। यह हमारे रुख को भी स्पष्ट करता है, कि पेरिस एग्रीमेंट के बाद उभरने वाले बैंक की बयानबाज़ी के बावजूद, एशियन इन्फ्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक (AIIB), जो इस परियोजना में एक सह-वित्तपोषक है, अब और विश्व बैंक के पीछे छिप नहीं सकता है, जो अब तक वह एक सह- वित्तदाता के रूप में बताकर कर रहा था।”, एनजीओ फोरम ऑन एडीबी के अंतर्राष्ट्रीय समिति और एन्विरोनिक्स ट्रस्ट के डायरेक्टर, श्रीधर आर ने कहा।

सेंटर फ़ॉर फ़ाइनेंशियल अकाउंटिबिलिटी कि  टैनी एलेक्स  ने कहा, “यह जन शक्ति का एक और उदाहरण है जो विश्व बैंक जैसी संस्थानों को भी लोगों के आपत्तियों की जवाबदेह बनने पर मजबूर करता है। जब परियोजना से प्रभावित लोग अपनी आवाज़ पर बुलंद और मजबूती से खड़े थे, उसी समय कई अन्य संगठनों ने समर्थन में उनके मुद्दे और आवाजों को उचित जगहों तक पहुंचाया। यह न्याय एवं जवाबदेही ले लिए लड़ रहे लोगों और उनके मजबूत मांगों की जीत है।”

WGonIFIs राज्य सरकार से मांग करता है कि,

  1. केंद्रीय भूमि अधिग्रहण और पुनर्वास कानून, 2013 के विपरीत भाव वाली CRDA भूमि अधिग्रहण अधिनियम, CRDA प्राधिकरण और संबंधित अधिसूचना को खारिज किया जाए और अमरावती कैपिटल रीजन के सभी प्रभावितों के मामले में केंद्रीय कानून को पूर्ण रूप से लागू किया जाए। इसके साथ सरकार द्वारा बिना सहमति लिए गए सभी जमीन को वापस लोगों को दिया जाए।
  2. किसानों, तटीय समुदायों, खेतिहर मजदूरों, बटायेदारों, भूमिहीन परिवारों, जिनको जमीन अधिग्रहण और विस्थापन के दौरान अत्यंत पीड़ा और भय व्याप्त समय से गुजरना पड़ा, उनके   सामाजिक-आर्थिक नुकसान, जमीन के मामले और मानसिक प्रताड़ना की न्यायिक जांच की जाए।
  3. पिछले पांच वर्षों में सामाजिक जीवन को पहुंचे नुकसान को देखते हुए दलित और दूसरे निर्दिष्ट भू-मालिकों के लिए विशेष मुआवजे की घोषणा की जाए।
  4. कैपिटल रीजन की घोषणा के बाद सक्रिय हुए दलालों, जो दलितों और निर्दिष्ट भू-मालिकों की जमीन खरीदने और उसकी प्रक्रिया में शामिल थे, के ऊपर सख्त कार्यवाही की जाए।
  5. दलित किसानों को दस्तावेजों में धांधली कर उन्हें बेदखल करने की कोशिशों को रोका जाए और सभी दलित किसानों को, जिनका जमीन पर वास्तविक कब्ज़ा है, उन्हें 2013 के कानून अनुसार मुआवजा, पुनर्स्थापन और पुनर्वास के लिए वास्तविक भू-मालिक माना जाए।

 

 

परियोजना के बारे में:

जून, 2014 में पूर्व के आंध्र प्रदेश राज्य के बँटवारे के बाद, दोनों राज्य, तेलंगाना और आंध्र प्रदेश ने हैदराबाद को राजधानी के रूप में अगले 10 वर्षों तक रखने का फैसला किया। उसी वर्ष सितम्बर में चंद्रबाबू नायडू, आंध्र प्रदेश के पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री, ने अमरावती को नए राजधानी शहर के रूप में बनाने की घोषणा की। विश्व बैंक और AIIB, इस परियोजना के लिए $715 मिलियन वित्त प्रदान करने पर विचार कर रही थी।इसके प्रभाव आंकलन में भी इसके सामाजिक और पर्यावरणीय प्रभावों को देखते हुए विश्व बैंक ने इस परियोजना को A केटेगरी प्रदान की थी । कृष्णा नदी घाटी के ऊपर बनाए जाने के लिए, उपजाऊ खेती की भूमि और जंगलों के विनाश, 20000 से अधिक परिवारों को विस्थापित करने, जबरन भूमि अधिग्रहण, और शहर निर्माण में मनचाहे ठेकेदारों को ठेका देने के कारण यह परियोजना बेहद विवादित रही है। 2017 में विश्व बैंक के जवाबदेही तंत्र के ‘इंस्पेक्शन पैनल’ में प्रभावितों ने शिकायत की और विश्व बैंक के नियमों के उल्लंघनों की जांच के लिए कहा। यह शिकायत अभी प्रक्रिया में थी और बैंक की बोर्ड, इंस्पेक्शन पैनल द्वारा इसकी जांच करने के लिए प्रस्ताव का इंतज़ार कर रही थी।

अधिक जानकारी के लिए इस लिंक पर जायें:  Encroachment of Nature, People and Livelihoods: A Case of the Abusive, Greedy and Failing Amaravati Capital City (2014-2019)

संपर्क:

  1. गुट्टा रोहित
    Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh
    gutta.rohithbunny@gmail.com
    +91 99852 50777
  2. मीरा संघमित्रा
    National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
    +91 73374 78993
    meeracomposes@gmail.com
  3. टैनी अलेक्स
    Researcher, Centre for Financial Accountability
    +91 96500 15701
    tani@cenfa.org