World Bank gets flak for India energy project

Power lines in Mumbai, India. A World Bank-financed power plan project could affect the health and livelihood of fishing communities in a coastal town in Gujarat state, northwest India. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Up to 100 organizations are putting pressure on the World Bank private sector arm to withdraw funding for a contentious power plant project in a coastal town in Gujarat state, northwest India.

The Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, which oversees the International Finance Corp. business practices, raised serious concerns over the Tata Mundra Power Project, which it found could affect the health and livelihood of fishing communities in the area.

In response to the report, the IFC should pressure the local company to take adequate measures and comply with operating guidelines like not releasing water beyond its normal temperature, which could potentially kill marine life, provide relief to affected communities, or even recall funds loaned for the project, Madhuresh Kumar of the National Alliance of People’s Movements told Devex.

But the World Bank’s private sector arm rebuffed several points made by the watchdog, arguing Tata Mundra is “proactively” addressing the issues on the ground. Kumar said the IFC also did not mention anything about looking further into the issues raised, but only that it will update the watchdog on progress made on “some of the good practices suggested in the report.”

That response led local advocacy groups to question the the value the bank puts on independent oversight, and President Jim Yong Kim’s calls for moving beyond a business-as-usual approach at the funding institution. Kim’s climate-related policies were called a “charade” and his push for accountability nothing but rhetoric.

The organizations will also ask other institutions such as the Asian Development Bank to reconsider their participation in the project.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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