/** hr.development: 104.0 **/
** Topic: World Bank & unsustaibl devlpmt. **
** Written 7:00 AM May 30, 1996 by ax:tautz in cdp:hr.development **
From: Carlos Sergio Figueiredo Tautz
Current and future U.S. and World Bank investments in the Indian state of Orissa are facilitating an alarming number of environmental, public health, and social crises, according to a recent comprehensive report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
The World Bank is likely to approve loans to India's coal mining and power sectors this week; these loans will help transform the eastern Indian state of Orissa into one of the world's most polluted regions, warned IPS, a Washington, DC, think tank(*).
Although the Bank is directly financing the least controversial aspects of these loans -- power restructuring and distribution -- it is indirectly facilitating the continued poisoning and impoverishment of Orissa's poorest people. The Bank plans to replicate this model of unsustainable development in at least four other Indian states.
Among the details in the IPS report, "The World Bank's Juggernaut: The Coal-Fired Industrial Colonization of India's State of Orissa":
Orissan environmental groups and IPS are calling on the World Bank to put the brakes on the coal-fired industrialization of Orissa.
"The loss of natural resources, loss of occupation for thousands of fishermen and farmers, the miseries due to health hazards and displacement far outweigh the development" that coal- fired power in Orissa is ushering in, said Sisir Tripathy, coordinator of the District Action Group (DAG), a group of 21 NGOs fighting for justice in the heavily industrialized Talcher-Angul region of the state. "We don't want to become another Singrauli," he added, referring to one of the most disastrous World Bank-financed coal-fired power projects in India -- a project which continues to cause serious environmental and social problems for the Singrauli area in Madhya Pradesh.
Unfortunately, two primary mines in Orissa financed by the World Bank are poised to be exploited in a manner virtually identical to Singrauli. DAG has called for a halt to new industrial projects until existing pollution problems are eliminated.
The World Bank has called this project in the state of Orissa a "highly relevant model for power sector reform in India." The Bank has plans to conduct similar power sector restructuring and privatization schemes in the Indian states of Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
(*) The Bank's executive board is set to consider two loans, one targetting Orissa's power sector and the other aiding the expansion of coal mining in Orissa and other Indian states. The first loan, to be considered on May 14 by the World Bank's Executive Board, is for a $350 million power transmission, distribution and management program, part of Orissa's power sector privatization and proliferation program. Although most people in Orissa are in need of electrical power, this program will facilitate the distribution of existing and new power, mainly to dirty industries. One-third of all power produced will go to the aluminum smelting industry in Orissa . The second loan of $43.5 million, to be considered on May 16 (and possibly delayed), would go towards "social and environmental mitigation" prior to the expansion of 25 coal mines in India, including five in Orissa. This essentially subsidizes the resettlement of people living around these mines and the resloping of tremendous piles of overburden dumped around them. Four-hundred other coal mines in India are not touched by World Bank-financed coal mining expansion and mitigation programs.