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Symposium on India’s Engagements and Experiences with Accountability Mechanisms of Multilateral Development Banks
The Inspection Panel is completing 25 years in its role, as an accountability mechanism of the World Bank. As you are aware, the Bank’s failure to comply with its operating policies was seen by the entire world in the Bank’s financing with the Sardar Sarovar Dam project on River Narmada. The tenacity of massive grass-roots uprisings from our communities in the 80’s and the sustained hard work of our social movements along with our resoluteness to link it with international coalitions to question the hegemony of the Bank, subsequently led the Bank, for the first time, to commission an independent review of its project. The Independent Review Committee (Morse Committee) constituted by the Bank in 1991 to review the social and environmental costs and benefits of the dam, after years of consistent struggle by Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) and its allies led to a demand from the civil society around the globe for the creation of a grievance redressal system for project-affected communities, which ultimately pressurized the Bank to constitute the Inspection Panel in 1993. We expected this might be a crucial backstop and an opportunity for us to raise our issues of livelihoods, economic loss, displacement from our lands, alienation from natural resources, destruction of environment and threat to our biodiversity and cultural hotspots, where Bank invested in large, supposedly ‘development’ projects like mega dams, energy and other infrastructure projects. Yet, the outcome we expected rarely delivered sufficient remedy for the harm and losses people have experienced over the years.
A number of accountability mechanisms over the next couple of decades in several development finance institutions were formed following the model of World Bank, commonly known as ‘Independent Accountability Mechanisms’[IAMs]. Each year the number of complaints rise which is an indication of the increasing number of grievous projects happening around the world. While IAMs of most MDBs are advertised to provide strong and just processes, many of our experiences imply that the banks are accommodating practices which suit their own needs and their clients, which are borrowing countries and agencies, and not the people for whom the IAMs were built to serve.
Many a time, we have been disappointed by these mechanisms, since these are designed by the banks who are lending for disastrous projects in our lands. And as a result, the already existing narrow mandate of IAMs is further restricted.
In our efforts to hold the lending bank accountable, the communities are always presented with the arduous process of learning the complex formalities and detailed procedures to initially approach the IAMs and get our grievances registered. Our many years’ time and energy then is channelised into seeing through the various cycles of these complaint handling mechanisms, that our entire efforts go into this process, and often our complaint gets dropped off in midst of the procedural rules of the IAMs. People are made to wait many months to clear procedural levels and our cases with the IAMs get highly unpredictable. Further, we face intimidation and reprisals from the state and project agencies for having contacted the IAMs who themselves do not possess any authority to address the violations hurled out to us when we seek dignity, fair treatment and justice from them. There are many of us who feel a loss of morale after long years of struggling with lenders when we fail to see concrete benefits or changes in our circumstances, by which time considerable irreplaceable harm is already done to our lives, environment and livelihoods.
In this manner, our immediate and larger goal of holding banks for their failure to consult with and obtain consent from communities before devising action plans for our lands, water and forests is deflected in the pretext of problem-solving and grievance hearing offered to us in the name of IAMs.
With over 50 registered complaints sent to different IAMS from India in the past 25 years, many more left unregistered due to technical reasons and only a few got investigated, assessed and monitored at different levels, we have a baggage of mixed experiences with the IAMs. A few of the prominent cases from India apart from Narmada project are Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project [WB’s IP], Tata Mega Ultra-01/Mundra and Anjar [IFC’s CAO & ADB’s CRP], India Infrastructure Fund-01/Dhenkanal District [IFC’s CAO], Allain Duhangan Hydro Power Limited-01/Himachal Pradesh [IFC’s CAO] and Mumbai Urban Transport Project (2009) [WB’s IP].
As we now know, what is being witnessed recently is an influx of approved and proposed investments majorly in energy, transport, steel, roads, urban projects, bullet trains, industrial zones/corridors, smart cities, water privatization and other mega projects in India. This has been financed from different multilateral and bilateral sources, foreign corporations, private banks as well as Export-Import Banks (ExIm Banks). It has become a brutal challenge for communities, social movements and CSOs, with lenders and governments constantly shutting their eyes and ears to us who demand accountability for their actions. A compelling and timely need has arisen among diverse groups amongst us to gather together and critically analyze the various trajectories of our engagements with accountability mechanisms of MDBs in order to bring together past 25 years’ learning, insights and reflections of various actors of this accountability process. This urging demand is also an attempt to define the collective experiences in India among our social movements, projected-affected communities and CSOs with IAMs and lending banks, especially appropriating the global political opportunity of Inspection Panel celebrating its 25 years this year.
The schedule and list of speakers will be shared soon.
Gaurav Dwivedi explains how the Smart Cities would be funded and implemented, and how the project would impact the functioning of the Urban Local Bodies.
It is noteworthy that currently, coal-based power projects are under threat due to lack of coal linkages and power purchase agreements, thus stalling many existing power projects and discouraging many companies from expanding to new coal power projects. This would give a boost to hydropower projects in many regions, especially in the Himalayan regions.
Around 90 CSOs and Social Movements to Organize Thematic Workshops Parallel to AIIB’s Third AGM in Mumbai
Press Note | June 14, 2018
Around 90 CSOs and Social Movements to Organize Thematic Workshops Parallel to AIIB’s Third AGM in Mumbai
Raising the serious issues of social and environmental costs in infrastructure projects, its economic burden on public and financial non-viability, Civil Society Organisations and social movements are set to organize a three day convention on Infrastructure Financing from June 21 – 23rd in Mumbai parallel to the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank’s third Annual Governors Meeting slated for June 25-26 in the same city.
During the Convention, almost 90 regional, national, and international grassroots and research organisations have come together to organise 20 workshops related to Infrastructure Financing; Development Financial Institutions; Policies and Safeguards; Urban Development; Transport; Port and Coastal Infrastructure; Energy and Energy Finance; Trade and International Financing; Water and Water Sector Reforms; Privatisation and PPPs, Gender; Social Marginalisation among other areas.
“The participants of these workshops would include activists, researchers, projected affected people among others. So far, over 200 people from across the country have registered for these workshops. The Convention will be attended by Prof. Arun Kumar, Medha Patkar, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Ulka Mahajan among others. The registrations for the workshops are still open for the individuals and media,” said Himshi Singh, one of the coordinators of the Convention.
Speaking about the Peoples Convention on Infrastructure Financing, Maju Varghese, another coordinator of the Convention, said, “the Convention is a resistance to International Finance Institutions, which are pushing massive infrastructures like industrial corridors, smart cities, sagarmala, bullet trains over peoples land and livelihood. The massive physical infrastructure will not improve peoples lives, livelihood, and social infrastructure like schools, hospitals will be left behind.”
Deliberating on this, Ulka Mahajan of Sarvahara Jan Andolan says, “The infrastructure that is being developed is not what people demand, but it is what global capital demands. The international financial institutions are promoting corporate interests over that of people and also pushing the states to the financial debt. On the one hand, the Maharashtra government does not have money to allocate 26,000 crores for the social sector, on the other hand, it has 42,000 crores for the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, which will reduce the present distance only by 24 km.”
The Peoples Convention intends to demand accountability from the development financial institutions, particularly AIIB which lacks robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and a complaint handling mechanism.
Meera Sanghamitra from the National Alliance of People’s Movements stated that The push for massive infrastructure projects has become a legalised way of grabbing land. Andhra Pradesh has a history of justifying land grabbing and resource appropriation in the name of multilateral donor-funded development aid and the WB-AIIB funded Amaravati Capital City Project joins this bandwagon by further legalizing the loot, leading to livelihood loss for thousands of families and a shared debt on all people of the state. Projects like Sagarmala, industrial corridors that are being pushed and promoted without considering the irreversible impact on the people’s traditional livelihoods and the environment are disasters-in-the-making.
The movements and CSOs will hold the Convention under the aegis of Working Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs), which include around 90 people’s movements and other CSOs, including National Alliance of People’s Movements, National Hawkers Federation, National Fishworkers Forum, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Bano Andolan, Soshit Jan Andolan, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan; Environment Support Group; North East Peoples Alliance, and others.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the two-year-old multilateral bank, is investing in all major sectors, including energy, without robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and an accountability/complaint handling mechanism. Out of the total 24 projects, it has financed, USD 4.4 billion has already been approved. India is the biggest recipient from AIIB with more than 1.2 billion USD supporting about six projects including Transmission lines, Capital City Development at Amravati, rural roads etc. with another 1 billion USD in proposed projects.
WGonIFIs, a network of movements, organisations and individuals to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them. A list of the network is available here.
Last year, when the Asian Development Bank completed 50 years, the WGonIFIs observed it by holding actions of protests in over 140 locations spread in over 21 states in India against the investment policies of ADB and other International Financial Institutions.
For further details, please contact:
Working Group on IFIs email@example.com
Registration for the workshops: https://wgonifis.net/aiib-peoples-convention/
AIIB – A Sneak Peek into Challenges: https://wgonifis.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/aiib-a-sneak-peek-into-challanges.pdf
Infrastructure and AIIB, the new Infra Bank: https://wgonifis.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/aiib-infrastructure-booklet_may25.pdf
Maju Varghese |8826249887
Mecanzy Dabre | 9665006429
Himshi Singh | 9867348307
Shweta Tambe: +91 98693 40816
Anil Tharayath: +91 96500 15257
At the Kharghar meeting on IFIs in India, Civil Society researchers discussed Understanding IFIS – Investments, intelligence and trends in critical sectors.
Overlap of Issues on Key Sectors in relations with International Financial Institutions. IN Transport, the emphasis seems to be on high-cost travel and with pricing systems that push the poor into more inconvenient modes.
Overlap of Issues on Key Sectors in relations with International Financial Institutions. Smart Cities project will make pockets of the cities exclusive zones high-cost zones, which will again result in the marginalised being excluded into dense low-grade services area.