Twenty four groups working on environmental, labor and human rights wrote to the Executive Directors of World Bank not to dilute the environmental and social safeguards as the President of the World Bank visits India to explore new financing opportunities. India has been the largest recipient of World Bank loans in the history of World Bank. This also meant that many of the World Bank projects caused severe displacement, environmental destruction and social fragmentation. These include the much debated Sardar Sarovar Project in the Narmada river, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project and very recently the Tata Mundra MEGA power coal project.
Commenting on the two drafts of the Safeguard Polices, the Indian groups said, “The drafts clearly demonstrated all that we said in our letter – the intentions are wrong, the process flawed and the purpose of this is to fool people, giving them a false sense of participation. The end result remains the same – to push investments in all possible sectors, with scant regard for social and environmental impacts and without any democratic and participatory processes.”
The letter also said, “The World Bank projects are not only a contributor to climate change situation, the projects are also destroying the capacity of the people to adapt to changing climate.”
Prominent among the signatories are: National Alliance of People’s Movements, International Rivers, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, North East Peoples Alliance, All India Union of Forest Working People, National Domestic Workers Union and Narmada Bachao Andolan.
As World Bank steps up its intentions to finance Indian projects, the Indian people would like to remind them to keep poor and the planet at the core of development and not to dilute any existing safeguards. World Bank initiated the safeguards after large scale protests financed by them including the Narmada Project. The safeguard review was initiated by World Bank in 2012 as part of its strategic reorganisation. The earlier drafts have been criticised by a wide range of groups including UN experts, local communities, civil society organisation etc.
June 25, 2016
Dear Executive Directors,
We are representatives of people’s movements, civil society organisations, and other concerned citizens from India, who have been engaged with, or monitoring World Bank financed projects for the past many years.
In April 2013, around 60 of us jointly issued a statement titled ‘Sham Consultations: No More’ during the first phase of the Safeguard consultations. We have detailed our opposition to the consultations, citing examples of different projects to establish that “the so-called environmental and social safeguards of the Bank are nothing more than a veneer of protection to mask the real impacts of this dangerous financial institution which works only to increase profitability of its shareholders and furthering the cause of the extractive-accumulative large capital – at any cost.”
While we stand by that, and despite many voices of opposition and concern from different parts of the globe, the Bank continued it process of consultations, without addressing the issues we collectively raised, and brought out two drafts of it. The drafts clearly demonstrated all that we said in our letter – the intentions are wrong, the process flawed and the purpose of this is to fool people, giving them a false sense of participation. The end result remains the same – to push investments in all possible sectors, with scant regard for social and environmental impacts and without any democratic and participatory processes. The World Bank projects are not only a contributor to climate change situation, the projects are also destroying the capacity of the people to adapt to changing climate.
To add insult to injury, our government has advocated for weakening of the policies claiming that these Safeguard policies are too costly and time-consuming to implement; inefficient when national systems could more quickly and easily be applied; and undermine national authority and sovereignty by putting harsh conditions on Bank lending.
We do not share this view with our government. Our opposition was on different grounds and it was not to weaken the policies.
We believe that unless there are genuine efforts to learn from past experiences, the consultations are more inclusive and participatory, and keeping people and environment in the core of any planning, these policies will only further disempower the people, rob them off their natural resources and push them to destitution.
National Alliance of People’s Movements
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People
International Rivers South Asia
North East Peoples Alliance
Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha
All India Union of Forest Working People
National Domestic Workers Union
National Cyclists Union
All India Forum of Forest Movements
Narmada Bachao Andolan
Matu Jansangthan, Uttarakhand
Beyond Copenhagen Collective, New Delhi
Delhi Forum, Delhi
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Madhya Pradesh
Institute for Democracy and Sustainability, New Delhi
Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, Gujarat
Intercultural Resources, (ICR) New Delhi.
Urban Research Center, Karnataka
Environment Support Group, Karnataka
Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS), Jharkhand
Delhi Solidarity Group
Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh
Theeradesa Mahila Vedi, Kerala