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.
Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.