World Bank Gives Nod To Launch Probe Into Project Funded By Them In Jharkhand
World bank inspection panel (independent of bank’s management) has given nod to carry out an independent investigation in “Rural water supply and sanitation project” (RWSSP) under the multi-village scheme in two districts of Jharkhand. It has been alleged that the district authorities have “failed” to consult members of local Adivasi communities before implementing the project, as reported by The Indian Express.
World bank is financing half the water supply project in two villages Chotagovindpur and Bagbera of East Singbhum district of Jharkhand under RWSSP, while the cost for the other half will be borne by the Centre and the respective state government. This $ 1 Billion project is meant for lower income states of the country such as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand & Uttar Pradesh.
The development project is facing the allegation that it was started without even consulting the local community. Adivasis have alleged that district authorities have forced implementations of the project upon them, undermining the impacts on their indigenous cultural resources and on the environment.
It is reported that the 104 people from the Santhal Adivasi community from Giddi Jhopri village were the first ones to complain about the location of the water treatment plant (WTP), which is the part of Baghbera multi-village scheme of RWSSP.
The second complaint was from 130 people of the Santhal and Ho tribal communities from Sarjamda village near Giddi Jhopri. Their complaint was regarding the elevated storage reservoir as part of the Chhotagovindpur multi-village scheme under RWSSP.
Since Singbhum comes under schedule-V, protected area PESA act, 1996 (panchayat extension to schedule area), therefore consent of gram sabha was mandatory for any development activity.
As per The Indian Express, Sisir Kumar Soren, the executive engineer of Drinking Water and Sanitation Department, Jamshedpur (which looks after implementations of the project) did not respond since he was busy in some ‘election arrangement’. Another officer Anuj Sinha, who demanded to see the project report before releasing any comment on the issue.
The locals say they are not opposing the project, as it is being implemented in from some time now. However, they are protesting against the fact that the authorities “undermined” their consent. “The project is underway on our community land, which we have been using for the last three generations to bury and cremate the dead, and also for religious functions,” said Sukhram Kisku from the Santhal community.
The panel acknowledged that there was no systematic assessment of potential impacts of the schemes on cultural resources, and as a result, their agreement to the development of WTP and ESR was not sought.
The panel recognized World Bank management’s intentions to support consultations of local communities but did not mention specific further steps towards it. But they indeed mentioned an investigation on the alleged issues of harm and related potential non-compliance with bank policies in the Requests.
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