A World Bank panel has said it would decide after nine months whether or not investigation is required into the allegations of possible threat to livelihoods and environment among others with regard to the construction of capital Amaravati. The Centre and Andhra Pradesh government have requested the World Bank to finance select infrastructure works in Amaravati, the proposed new capital of the state and the Bank is preparing a loan of USD 300 million for the proposed project, to be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Some people residing in the vicinity of Amaravati had written to the World Bank’s inspection panel on May 25 2017 alleging harm to their livelihoods, environment, food security and resettlement due to the bank’s non-compliance with its environmental and social standards in the preparation of the project.
“Considering the foregoing and taking into account paragraph 5 of the 1999 Clarifications 5, the Panel is recommending a second deferral of its recommendation and will report back to the Board after nine months or when Bank Management authorises the appraisal of the proposed Project, whichever arises earlier.”
“At that time, the Panel will make a recommendation as to whether an investigation into the Bank’s actions or omissions is warranted. If the Board of Executive Directors concurs with the foregoing, the Inspection Panel will advise the requesters and Management accordingly,” the Inspection Panel said in its report submitted to the World Bank Board which approved the recommendation on July 13.
The Panel in September last year visited Amaravti to look into the complaints it received from some of the ‘farmers’ who alleged that they were forced to part their land and claimed harm from a land pooling scheme being used to assemble the land required for the city, as well as from other project activities.
On September 27, 2017, the panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the World Bank Board of Executive Directors that recommended “carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related potential non-compliance with Bank policies, especially relating to involuntary resettlement.”
However, in December 2017, the panel deferred its decision on whether a probe is warranted by 6 months after the bank management submitted an addendum offering clarifications. The addendum also contained update on project preparation and additional actions to “complement and clarify” the actions presented in its July 21, 2017, response in order to fully address the Requesters’ concerns.
The proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project (ASCCDP) is expected to fund a 145-km priority road-grid and key flood mitigation works in the area. The ASCCDP will support wider and equitable sharing of benefits from the development of the new city with a range of stakeholders, especially vulnerable groups and women.
It will also upgrade infrastructure in some of the 24 villages of the region to help integrate them into the capital area. The proposed Project will also finance a program of support aimed at helping set up robust urban governance institutions for the new capital city. “The Inspection Panel’s mandate is to examine the World Bank’s compliance with its own policies, and not the activities of the borrowing government. There is no time limit for an investigation which can take several months. Project activities are however not halted by an investigation,” a World Bank official had earlier told PTI. The Andhra Pradesh government has so far pooled over 33,000 acres from farmers for construction of the new capital under different categories of agreements.