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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 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

World Bank Pulls Out of Amaravati Capital City Project: A Major Victory to People, Activists Say

For Immediate Release

World Bank Pulls Out of Amaravati Capital City Project: A Major Victory to People, Activists Say

July 18, 2019: In a significant move, which will have repercussions at multiple levels, yesterday the World Bank has decided to pull out of the $300 million lending to the Amaravati Capital City project in Andhra Pradesh.

Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs) and the affected communities of the Amaravati Capital City Project welcome the decision. The Bank arrived at this decision after a series of representations it received from many people’s movements and civil society organisations over the past years, and a complaint to its accountability mechanism, Inspection Panel, by the affected communities.

We are happy that World Bank took cognisance of the gross violations involved in the Amaravati Capital City project, threatening the livelihood of people and fragile environment. After Narmada and Tata Mundra, this is the third major victory against the World Bank Group. We are happy that the Inspection Panel which was created due to the struggle of Narmada Bachao Andolan played its critical role here. While we celebrate this victory of people, who stood up to the intimidation and terror of the state, we warn the government and financial institutions not to push their agenda without the consent of the people” said Medha Patkar, senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan and National Alliance of People’s Movements.

Ever since the Amaravati Capital City Project was conceptualised in 2014, environmental experts, civil society organisations and grassroots movements have expressed their anguish over the grave  violations of the social and environmental laws, financial unviability, massive land-grabbing of the fertile land in the garb of voluntary land-pooling, open threats to the complainants by none other than the then Chief Minister, along with  concerns of losing fertile farmlands and livelihoods.

Mallela Sheshagiri Rao from the Capital Region Farmers Federation said, “With uncertainty hovering above us in respect to our land and livelihood, we had suffered sleepless nights with fear and pain. The struggle has made a mark in our lives that we can never forget. We hope the larger message of World Bank’s pulling out of this project will be heard by the state and other financiers and will address the concerns of people with honesty and commitment.”

Another co-financier of the project Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), projected themselves as the Post-Paris Bank, signalling the commitment to tackle climate emergency, is in focus now. While the project is still listed under consideration in their official documents, having entered in this project only as a co-financier and AIIB used World Bank’s policies to adhere to in this project, as a co-financier, the status of the AIIB now is unclear, with World Bank pulling out.

“For a change, good sense has prevailed upon the Bank to withdraw from the disastrous programme.  This also vindicates our stance that despite its rhetoric of a Post-Paris Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is a co-financer in the project, can no longer hide behind the World Bank which it has been doing as a co-financier,” said Sreedhar R, Chair, International Committee, NGO Forum on ADB and Director, Environics Trust.

Tani Alex of Centre for Financial Accountability said, “This is another instance of people’s power forcing institutions like World Bank responsive to their concerns. While the people affected by the project stood a firm ground, support and solidarity from a number of other organisations amplified their concerns at appropriate forums. This is a victory of people and their unnerving demands for accountability and justice.”

WGonIFIs demand the State government 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 10 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 information:  Encroachment of Nature, People and Livelihoods: A Case of the Abusive, Greedy and Failing Amaravati Capital City (2014-2019)

Contact details:

  1. Gutta Rohit
    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

 

Humanity Absent from World’s most Acclaimed Development Report

By Tani Alex

The World Development Report (WDR) is the World Bank’s development research and policy review report published annually. Started by IBRD since 1978, this report is intended to provide deep and extensive analysis on one particular aspect of economic development, every year. The solutions and policy messages brought out in this report is widely scrutinised by researchers, policy makers, governments and civil society since this ‘flagship’ report is supposedly the Bank’s highly prized research contribution to the development world. Heavy research budgets, far-reaching dissemination and the legitimacy of ‘World Bank’ publication make this a cherished one for the Bank. Few of the previous years’ reports focused on education, health, environment, risk management, poverty, the role of the state, youth, agriculture, equity and public services delivery.

Quick Glimpse into the development of WDR 2019

The World Development Report 2019: Changing Nature of Work (WDR 2019) examines the changing nature of work and firms, laying emphasis on the impact of technology and digital innovation on the current global economy.

But what made this report a highly talked about one in the recent debates on development? The Bank’s previous president Jim Yong Kim writes in his foreword that this document shows the transparency of work since it was open to all for modification of drafts, almost every week online. And then, there were more than a million downloads even before halfway its publication which also made it the most downloaded report in 2018. Another occasion to note is that its preparatory phase was delayed by the Bank’s then chief economist Paul Romer’s resignation[he was the first director of WDR 2019], over his controversial remarks on the direct correlation between the political leanings of the staff and annual rankings of countries in Ease of Doing Business process of the Bank. Subsequently, the work was taken over by Simeon Djankov, who is the Founding Director of the much sought-after, yet much criticised, Doing Business Reports. Yet another highlight of this report was the introduction of Human Capital Index [The human capital project examined in WDR 2019 will be explained in another section of this article], again contested, where countries will be now ranked annually in terms of a child attaining optimum productivity after having attained education and full health from birth till 18 years of age.

Paradoxical Messages of WDR 2019

But above all, this report faces strong criticism for its two pertinent direct messages – deregulation of businesses and shifting obligations of firms/employers for social protection of workers/employees to the shoulders of the State. Few voices have come out globally carefully analysing the nuances of various explanations given by the Bank to establish the context for its suggestions for the future of work for the evolving economy.

It is true that the report has failed to give a rounded, well-thought critique on the actual challenges faced by workers in the accelerated transformation of the world of work.  To put it short, critically speaking, this report is inherently characterised on anti-worker perspective. The deregulatory solution brought out in this report parrots almost all the editions of Doing Business Reports since 2003 promoting private sector development and having influenced watering down of many regulatory policies across countries to facilitate rapid entry and development of the business.

This was eagerly executed by governments because labour regulations policies allegedly stifled exciting investments and swift economic growth. It is ironical that the same Bank, in its WDR 2013: Jobs, after extensive review on the link between labour regulation and employment [following a massive hue and cry from few governments, labour movements and ILO], had stated that this ‘link’ was non-existent. This obviously shows WDR 2019 disproves the exhaustive findings of WDR 2013!

Moreover, the Bank, during its previous Annual Meetings at Bali during October 2018 had introduced its new Environmental and Social Framework, where respect for workers’ rights in Bank’s projects was entered as Labour Safeguards [ESS2– Labour and Working Conditions]. Not less than two weeks later after the much appreciation for Bank’s new safeguard policy, came WDR 2019 in direct and stark contrasting opinions. This is highly contradictory and problematic from the Bank’s side sending two conflicting messages in two separate yet distinguished policy publications.

Story Line of WDR 2019The world of work is progressing rapidly with technological and digital innovations including robots and Artificial Intelligence. Stable jobs are giving way to Gig- jobs and digital market places paved the way for platform market places and superstar firms. “Innovation will continue to accelerate” and there are growing chances, as already seen in many countries, that automation would replace the low-skilled redundant labour. Hence the jobs remaining outside automation would require highly skilled work-force that would have exceptional cognitive skills [logic, reasoning, critical thinking], socio-behavioural skills [teamwork, resilience, confidence, leadership] and skills of predictive adaptability [‘an individual now can have not many jobs but different careers in one lifetime’].

In order to feed into this need for a productive workforce, education and health must be critical for every child [starting from birth, especially until 5 years of age] and adult [adult learning outside the school and tertiary education. Therefore, the bank’s new Human Capital Project and Human Capital Index examines closely at this aspect of development and will recommend policy actions through country strategies. And what about those who fail to fall in the ‘formal’ and productive workforce, namely the informal workers? Well, they will be given social assistance [various forms of UBI, negative tax], social insurance and State will protect them with basic minimum, and if possible reskilling and upskilling initiatives would be undertaken].

All said, the gap of finances which then the State is faced with can be covered by mobilizing tax revenue – by imposing VAT, excise tax on tobacco, alcohol, sugar, etc. and by expanding the tax coverage base, along with further strengthening of global efforts of OECD and G-20 to agree together on preventing tax erosion and profit-shifting through tax havens.

And thereafter, to accommodate all these policy changes, there should be political incentives for governments through new social contracts for the State to protect all, whether they are formal or informal workers, whether they are employed or unemployed and wherein the returns to work for the State is also guaranteed.

It finally follows that the goal of social inclusion is achieved thus. Well, aren’t we all made happy and all looks rosy!

A Few Disquieting Specifics from WDR 2019

Apart from the disguising semantics of WDR 2019’s storyline, here is a list of important suggested possibilities of what might not be well with a large number of us globally, if its recommended policy actions are adopted by governments:

  1. Minimum wages, which ensured fair returns to workers against exploitation of employers, shall be reduced – employers are free to reduce the wages to the bare minimum.
  2. You and I can be fired from work at will. Because we pose structural rigidity to firms.
  3. Employers will be made free from providing workers’ protection rights (imagine how this would read for those who work in occupationally hazardous environments especially and already for those working as independent contractors and gig-workers who juggle multiple careers who do not fall under the regular labour category)
  4. Already data is given in the report of advanced economies enjoying the productivity of robots, while the employment growth has been steady and has not been affected. But how can these be ideated with that of situations in poor and low-middle income countries?
  5. Workers are expensive if labour rights and protection are implemented in every firm, hence do away with labour regulations! [Shake hands with the similar recommendations of Doing Business Reports!]
  6. The present Bismarckian model of social security scheme based on workers’ and employers’ voluntary contribution will be changed since they do not include the informal workers who are 2/3rdof developing country population.
  7. The informality of works worldwide poses a huge problem of workers not being able to be adapted to the past faced requirements of the transforming economy. Majority of us will be jobless unless we keep on learning if we are adults. No mention of senior citizens in the report.
  8. Digital marketplaces, to read accurately, ‘intangible marketplaces’ get away with not having to pay taxes and profit-shifting. So, let the governments finance their basic social welfare schemes and assistance by expanding the tax base and increasing regressive VAT. Imagine how a poor or developing nation would suffer from the burden of it – the ordinary man’s wages go into his daily sustenance and will not have savings, and then he needs to pay VAT over what he consumes for his survival!
  9. Various forms of Universal Basic Income [UBI] are recommended.
  10. Rich will get richer, poor will be increasingly poorer (seems the Gini coefficient hasn’t moved altogether for some time)

Other General Global Concerns with WDR 2019

The following broad critique has been collated and arranged from all the sources given in this article, hyperlinked at various instances.

  1. Lack of significant research data
  2. Selective data and evidence presentation
  3. Casual handling of the subject with sweeping generalizations
  4. Central assertions of the document [except maybe a little in the Building Human Capital and Lifelong learning] are devoid of solid and reliable data and genuine analysis.
  5. The Bank has perhaps allowed right-wing ideologies to trickle down into their research reports.
  6. While stressing the need to acknowledge the rise of platform markets and independent contractors, legal protection and safeguards for the emerging distinct labour force [who have also met serious resistance while campaigning for their rights like Uber Drivers] have not been addressed.
  7. Pro-business and superstar firms agenda
  8. Growing inequality of economies inadequately discussed
  9. “Disregarding history, blinkered to indigenous protests, pretending there’s a peaceful pathway to all things good”

Longstanding observers of WDR over many years has recognised the emerging pattern of the Bank to move away from their adopting best practices to better learning by doing exercises. And that the Bank has been engaging in wider politics for better acceptance of their policy recommendations, including the “elite interests and ideologies; addressing collective action problems; building support for reform…legitimising a wider consensus”, for “pro-poor experimentation.”

The report has not just suggested eliminating the responsibility of social protection from the private sector and superstar firms, but altogether failed to address and recall the need of commitment from advanced nations to contribute in global development, by limiting the scope of the report to just low and middle-income economy experiments and discussions.

Much disappointing and worse is the fact that, here, human beings are pitted as human capital only, to be tailor-made for ‘productivity’. In the impatient race for economic growth and capital, the creativity of humanity, the plight of less privileged and marginalised, the ever-present resistances of people’s groups and movements, declining natural resources and accommodating other living beings, much less…the essence of life and living itself is non-existent in this ‘development’ report.

इंफ़्रास्ट्रक्चर निवेश: विकास या विनाश

एशियन इंफ़्रास्ट्रक्चर इन्वेस्टमेंट बैंक और भारत का नेशनल इन्वेस्टमेंट एंड इंफ़्रास्ट्रक्चर फ़ंड के निवेश संकट की और एक इशारा

MASS welcomes the US Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear the Case Challenging World Bank Group Immunity

For immediate release

MAAS welcomes the US Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear the Case Challenging World Bank Group Immunity
This will be the first time the US Supreme Court will address the scope of international organisations’ immunity.
May 21, 2018, Mundra, Gujarat: Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) and the affected communities by the Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Project welcomes the historic decision of the US supreme court to hear the landmark lawsuit which challenged the immunity of powerful institutions like the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank Group.
“This is a victory of our relentless struggle to bring to justice the crimes committed by the Tata against the fishing community. The IFC aided the process by turning a blind eye to it,” said Dr Bharat Patel General Secretary, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, one of the petitioners in the case.
The case, Jam v. IFC, brought by fishermen and farmers affected by IFC-funded Tata’s Mundra Ultra Mega Project challenged the absolute immunity enjoyed so far by international organisations like IFC.
“International organizations like the IFC are not above the law and must be held accountable when their projects harm communities. The notion of ‘absolute immunity’ is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, and it is contrary to the IFC’s own mission as an anti-poverty institution. We are glad the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case and hope it will correct this error,” said Richard Herz, Senior Litigation Attorney at EarthRights International (ERI).
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear their case means that it will consider international organisation immunity for the first time, and decide whether international organisations can be held accountable for their harmful conduct, or whether they enjoy the special status above the law that they claim.
Budha Jam, the main petitioner, said that “This decision on this case will be keenly awaited by not only by us but by the communities from across the world which are fighting the crimes of the international financial institutions in the name of promoting development. I am hopeful that the US Supreme Court will not let us down.”
International organisations like the IFC have long claimed they are entitled to “absolute” immunity from suit – an immunity far greater than any person, government, or entity enjoys – no matter how illegal their actions are or how much harm they cause.
“It is the time to start holding international financial institutions accountable. In this time and age when the human rights and accountability discourse has travelled far and wide, hiding behind the immunity clause is contrary to the “right to seeking justice” and “rights to remedy” of the communities,” added Patel.
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that IFC had “absolute immunity” and could not be sued for its role in the controversial Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant that has devastated communities in Gujarat. The D.C. Circuit recognised the “dismal” situation the plant has created for the complainants, including the destruction of their livelihoods and property and the serious threats to their health, and noted that the IFC had not denied those harms. The court found the IFC could not be sued based on prior D.C. Circuit decisions. One of the judges, however, expressed strong disagreement with IFC immunity and noted that another federal court had rejected the prior D.C. Circuit immunity cases, which she thought were “wrongly decided.”
“When at a time we thought that all doors for justice seemed closed, with this decision our faith in the judicial system is restored,” said Gajendrasinh Jadeja, head of a local village that is also a petitioner in the case.
Dr Bharat Patel (Mundra, Gujarat)
General Secretary, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan
+ 91 94264 69803

Letter to the WB on Amaravati Case of Inspection Panel

Statement

November 27, 2017

Letter to the WB on Amaravati Case of Inspection Panel

 To

The Executive Directors,

The World Bank

Washington DC

Dear Executive Directors,

We, the representatives of people’s movements, civil society organisations, and concerned citizens, write to the Board of World Bank Group to draw your urgent attention to a few critical matters surrounding the Bank’s proposed Project PI59808: India- Proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project. We are aware that complaints and requests for inspection were sent to the Inspection Panel during December 2016 and May 2017,[1] and registration of the complaint was notified to the public (IPN-Request No. RQ 17/04).

Developments following the Inspection Panel’s visit

We are perturbed with the couple of recent developments, which took place after the Panel’s visit to India mid-September this year, following the registration of the complaint filed by farmers from Andhra Pradesh. This project has garnered much attention in the country owing to the massive land acquisition and ‘voluntary land pooling’ scheme [LPS]. The farmers allege harm to their livelihoods, environment, and food security, along with lack of consultation and participation of affected people. The Inspection Panel visited Amaravati during 13-15 September 2017 and has heard various representations from the project-affected villages. Soon after, in the first week of October, the Bank’s website published the Inspection Panel’s report — which was taken down within few days — with recommendations for investigation into the grievances of the complainants against forced land pooling, coercion and intimidation, lack of sufficient public consultations, grave threat to food security and loss of fertile floodplains to establish Amaravati. It is established from the copy of the report that the Panel has in fact concluded that there are indeed “issues of potential harm and policy non-compliance.” We note that it has further observed that the people “raised issues of a serious character that can only be fully ascertained in the context of an investigation.” It also recommends “carrying out an investigation,” which “will primarily focus on the resettlement aspects of the Bank’s proposed project, as well as environmental concerns, and issues related to consultation, participation and disclosure of information as they pertain to the Bank’s financing, policies and procedures.”

The Bank, while pulling down this report, issued a press statement saying that the Panel’s report was inadvertently published before being reviewed by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. All the affected groups, the communities, supportive CSOs and media are now watching Board’s decision closely, which will decide on the further investigation into Bank’s non-compliance with its operating policies [OP/BP 4.01 – Environmental Assessment, OP/BP 4.04 – Natural Habitats, OP/BP 4.11 – Physical Cultural Resources, OP/BP 4.12 – Involuntary Resettlement, OP/BP 4.36 – Forests].

Undermining of Panel’s mandate

While you are now considering revising the directives of your accountability mechanism by next year, we keenly call forth to bolster the mandate of the Panel and not to weaken it. Earlier this year, there were calls by the CSOs for greater ‘independence’ and ‘legitimacy’ of the Panel by including external stakeholders in its Panel, which could be from the academia or CSOs. Not to deviate from the point of attention here, there are regular calls about strengthening your accountability, but your actions seem to weaken your mandate by limiting the role of your complaint handling mechanisms. This, in turn, reflects your undermining of the systems and responsibilities you uphold. Especially, now that the international climate has been manipulatively made conducive for development banks and lenders to thrust funds in the guise of mega infrastructure financing, it is likely that you would witness a large number of objections as well since it involves significant displacement of people, loss of natural resources and livelihoods. Disregard of national and state laws, violation of environmental and social safeguards and hiding of critical information to affected communities continue unchecked.

There are strong reasons to suspect that the Government of India might weigh in on the Board to dissuade it from permitting an investigation into the case. We want to confirm that that view is not shared by a large number of us, and the Government is going ahead against the wishes of the people.

The independence of the Inspection Panel and the commitment of the Board on following its procedures will be strongly tested once the Panel’s report is published on the Bank website again.

Intimidation of the State 

Though the Government of Andhra Pradesh [GoAP] presented Land Pooling Scheme as voluntary, many farmers were intimidated and economically manipulated into pooling their lands. The strategies for the same included setting short deadlines for participation in the LPS, which were subsequently and repeatedly extended; threats to acquire the land under the regulations of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, which would provide compensation far below the actual market value of the farmers’ land and threats to provide the ten-year annuity only to those farmers who signed up for the LPS prior to May 1, 2015.

Farmers who expressed opposition to the LPS were also intimidated and harassed. There were instances of burning of farms and plantations in the State. Further, there has been a heavy police presence in the Amaravati area since land pooling began, and police have interrogated, detained, harassed, assaulted, and intimidated residents. The Chief Minister of the State, who publicly challenged to take legal action against the people working against the capital city, has set a dangerous precedent to the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms of development banks. The intimidating atmosphere around any public workshop or meeting held by those who are not in favour of the capital city project is very clearly established in the IP report and as was evident during their visit to Amaravati as well.

We are astonished that the Bank has not made a public statement against this outright intimidation for seeking redressal from its accountability mechanism. Apart from a direct threat to the current complainants, it is also a warning to all future complainants that they will have to face the wrath of the state for approaching the Bank and its mechanisms. The silence the Bank continues to maintain on this is perceived to be a tactical one to appease the Indian government.

Precautionary Orders of NGT Judgment 

In its recent (17th November 2017) decision, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (in Pandaleneni Srimannarayana, EAS Sarma and others, vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors.) has categorically held that the proposed Capital’s environmental and social impacts have been insufficiently reviewed and addressed when the controversial environmental clearance was accorded to it. As a consequence, the Tribunal thought it fit to appoint a special Supervisory Committee to review all conditions of the environmental clearance accorded by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, and also to subject the project to further review from a perspective of assessing risks, including those posed by climate change events. It is clear from this verdict that even the most basic assessments relating to the short-term and long-term environmental and social impacts of the project have not been assessed per law and applicable norms by the Andhra Pradesh Government.

All things considered, no project can be supported or financed if it is not in conformance with the Constitution of India. It is an undeniable fact that the Amaravati Capital proposal has not yet been reviewed and approved by the District Planning Committee [DPC] as is mandated per Article 243ZD of the Constitution of India, which requires such a project as the Capital Amaravati can only be promoted, provided it has been approved by the DPC having prepared a District Development Plan having regard to:

“(i) matters of common interest between the Panchayats and the Municipalities including spatial planning, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation;

(ii) the extent and type of available resources whether financial or otherwise;

(b) consult such institutions and organisations as the Governor may, by order, specify.

(4) The Chairperson of every District Planning Committee shall forward the development plan, as recommended by such Committee, to the Government of the State.”

In the instant case, without Amravati having secured mandatory approval of DPC, it follows that extending any form of loan and assistance to the proposal will amount to the World Bank supporting, financing and participating in an unconstitutional project.

Our Demands against the Impositions of the WB as a co-financier in Amaravati Capital City Development Project

  1. We strongly hold the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a co-financier of the project, accountable for the already existing and impending crucial consequences of this mammoth capital city project with its flawed project design, based on its own environmental and social safeguards.
  2. Despite repeated communication and appeals, the GoAP has already proceeded with construction activities and laying out infrastructure in an accelerated mechanism, involving sub-projects and components, which highly falls in the purview of the Bank’s scope – its Urban Pro-Poor Infrastructure goal for the project. This is a very disturbing trend of the WB for proceeding with support for the government without paying heed to the resistances of the project affected communities and circumventing their concerns against the project. Also, as understood from the World Bank’s statement, it has executed a trust fund of $ 0.17 million for financing the preparatory works of the project.
  3. We do not hesitate to direct our charges against the WB on lending to the catastrophic project where we are witnessing now the forced Land Pooling Scheme to amass vast parcels of land for development across one of the richest fertile food belts of India [Please note that GoAP has proposed to acquire around 56,000 acres of which around 35,000 are already pooled in, including almost 100 hectares of Forest Land].
  4. We demand that WB revoke its support from the project, which would surely pave the way for the disruption of the natural state of a sensitive ecosystem including remodelling reserve forests by felling trees and building bio/industrial/techno/sports parks, along with your negligence towards our foresight of frequent floods triggered to an acute degree. We challenge that the Chief Minister of AP himself is flouting NGT orders on zero constructions on the river embankments, by renovating his residence on the banks adjacent to River Krishna.
  5. Displacement and ‘resettling’ of around 20,000 families in the guise of returning ‘developed’ residential and commercial lands in the absence of a guarantee and struggling in the tentacle grip of realtors, middlemen, goondas of the real estate sector are serious concerns raised.WB presenting a plan on involuntary resettlement against these issues without public consultations or consent is vehemently questionable.
  6. We strongly reiterate that the creation of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act (APRCDA Act 2014) was against the country’s Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 along with the tweaked amendments. We are aware that, as and when project components materialise, existing laws are amended at the State, or there is a complete irreverence to the nation-specific policies. We fiercely question this disregard of WB for our policies and laws, which were strenuously formulated by our national leaders during our times of national and regional struggles.
  7. The lack of an adequate and comprehensive Resettlement Policy Plan and the incompetent addressing of the Bank against the uprooting of impoverished Dalit families from 600-year-old occupied islands and not having guaranteed them return lands will lead directly to the creation of a wide marginalised community of informal sector on the outskirts of the capital city with no regard for their dignity, efforts and labour. Also, depriving village commons of the communities dependent on them is highly regrettable.
  8. We want to draw the attention of WB to the contemptuous promises made by the Government to upgrade skills of project affected people of which farmers are the majority, by wrenching their agricultural lands from them and introducing new ‘industrial and technological’ skills. The statistics of increase in land value, population and employment rates are highly speculated, and studies based on other references on recent capital cities of India affirm our case. We are resolute when we ask WB to reconsider stop investing in this project based on highly inflated statistics that are borrowed from the development models of foreign countries (Japan, Dubai, Singapore).
  9. We do not wish to sell our land to foreign players with diversified investments, MoUs and interests, in the name of ‘development’. GoAP, who should have been supporting the citizens who elected them, refrain from giving attention to our calls. We assert that we will continue exhorting WB for proceeding with this ill-conceived project, against the greater interests of the people in Amaravati.

We unwaveringly stress that the civil society of India is wary about how you will take a decision based on the recommendations of the Panel. We look forward to your immediate attention to our requirements and for your sound judgment on Amaravati case.

 

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan
  2. EAS Sarma, Forum for Better Visakha and Former Secretary, Ministry of Power, Government of India
  3. Prafulla Samanthra, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha
  4. Gautam Mody, New Trade Union Initiative
  5. Peter, National Fishworkers Forum
  6. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Delhi
  7. Afsar Jafri, Focus on Global South
  8. Sreedhar Ramamurthi, Environics Trust, New Delhi
  9. Ravi Rebbapragda, Samata Assertion for People
  10. Ashok Shrimali, Mines, Minerals & People
  11. Souparna Lahiri, All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)
  12. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR, (Mines Minerals & RIGHTS)
  13. Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
  14. Himanshu Upadhyaya, Public Finance Public Accountability Collective, Bangalore
  15. Tani Alex, Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi
  16. Soumya Dutta,  Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha
  17. Beyond Copenhagen Collective
  18. Willy, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF, New Delhi
  19. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Independent Researcher and Activist
  20. Leo Saldanha, Environmental Support Group, Bangalore
  21. Ram Wangkheirakpam, Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur
  22. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, Delhi
  23. Babu Rao, Retired Scientist, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and Independent Environmental Expert
  24. Usha Seethalakshmi, Independent Researcher, Mahila Kisan Manch (MAKAAM), Forum For Women Farmers’ Rights
  25. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Andhra Pradesh/Telangana State
  26. Kiran Kumar Vissa, Rythu Swarajya Vedika (Forum For Farmers’ Sovereignty)
  27. Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for Right to Information and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Andhra Pradesh/Telangana State
  28. Deepala Suresh, Lawyer and Independent Researcher
  29. Gutta Rohit, Human Rights Forum (HRF), Andhra Pradesh/Telangana State
  30. Ravi Kumar, Independent Lawyer (representative of the Amaravati project-affected before various judicial fora)
  31. Rajesh Serupally, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Andhra Pradesh/Telangana State
  32. Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum (HRF), Andhra Pradesh/Telangana State
  33. Bharat Patel, Machimar Adhikaar Sangharsh Sangathan
  34. Awadhesh Kumar, Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
  35. Rajendra Ravi, Institute for Democracy and Sustainability
  36. Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Abhiyaan
  37. Manshi Asher, Himdhara – Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  38. Aashima Subberwal, The Research Collective, New Delhi
  39. Rajesh Singh, Delhi Solidarity Group
  40. Himanshu Damle, Public Finance Public Accountability Collective, New Delhi
  41. Vimalbhai, Mattu Jan Sangathan, Uttrakhand
  42. Rajkumar Sinha, Chutka Paramanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
  43. Maglin Philomin, Teeradesa Mahila Vedi, Kerala
  44. Amulya Nidhi, Nai Shuruwat, Madhya Pradesh
  45. Kannan, PSI India
  46. Ravindranath, River Basin Friends

 

[1] http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/940131497624348120/India-Amaravati-Sustainable-Capital-City-Development-Project-request-for-inspection