Press Statement: 22 .8.2017
ADB’s Annual Monitoring Report on Tata Mundra rejected:
Report subverts the real issues while focusing only on the frivolous ones
Kutch, Gujarat: Communities affected by the Tata Mundra (Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd – CGPL) coal power plant in Kutch rejected ADB’s Second Annual Monitoring Report to the Board of Directors on the Implementation of Remedial Actions (report). This report misplaces its priorities to the least important issues leaving the main concerns of the affected communities unaddressed.
This report was developed as a part of monitoring process of the remedial action plan published in July 2015, which was itself rejected by the communities.
In its Compliance Report, published in April 2015, CRP found several areas of noncompliance with ADB operational policies and procedures. Some of them were:
- failure to conduct adequate and comprehensive consultations with fisherfolk during initial project design phase and consider their views in assessing project impacts.
- noncompliance with ADB operational policies and procedures for thermal and chemical pollution of wastewater discharged through its outfall channel leading to harm people fishing on foot.
- noncompliance with air pollution standards, and unless continued violations of prescribed air standards were not checked or brought into compliance, further harm would result.
- noncompliance with ADB operational procedures and resulting harm by not surveying and compensating people impacted by longer access routes to their traditional fishing grounds as plant premises now stood enclosed.
Despite these findings, the remedial action plan developed by ADB lacked teeth. It trivialized the need for genuine public consultations with all stakeholders to understand the spread and depth of impacts. There has been no attempt to do a fresh ESIA/SIA despite recognizing the erroneous process earlier. Nothing was proposed on health facilities, despite CRP reporting about air pollution, dust and ash contamination. There has been no genuine attempt to make the entire monitoring and evaluation(M&E) process transparent since affected communities are not a part of the process. Instead, the same company and the same M&E consultants whose failure hitherto has led to such a situation are responsible for M&E.
The current monitoring report is just a brutal reminder of the lack of seriousness ADB has shown to the findings of CRP’s compliance report. The remedial action plan has been made fait accompli on the people, and cosmetic remedial actions are being focused merely to claim that the project is compliant with ADB’s operational policies. The very fact that the second report mentions that, “CRP finds that since the first monitoring report, limited progress has been made in disclosing information and conducting consultations” goes on to show the seriousness that has been associated with the process. Consultations with the affected community are a prerequisite for any social and environmental assessment of a project. The remedial action plan mentions, as part of this consultative process, the affected foot fisherfolk (Pagadiya) will be identified; information on their livelihoods will be collected, and impacts will be assessed; and measures to address livelihood impacts will be established in a Livelihood Improvement Plan, as detailed in this Action Plan.
CRP’s final report on compliance came out in 2015 since then, ADB has not even been able to monitor the most primary prerequisite of conducting a well informed public consultation. This situation is nothing less than a travesty of justice that despite not following the basic requisites of consultation a project was constructed, is operational now and also has become economically nonviable. The project has become a loss-generating one. Today, its outstanding long-term loan is INR 10,159 crore; Tata Power to has lent INR 4,460 crore to meet the cash requirements of the project. This is the scenario without factoring in the environmental and livelihood loss the project has been caused by this project.
Even the superficial remedial actions have still not been fully complied. The NIO (National Institute of Oceanography) study conducted on the impact on marine biology due to the project (about which CRP had expressed its reservations regarding incorrect methodology) has still not been completed. CGPL outrightly has rejected any further action on the report and considers the NIO study conclusive and showing enough evidence that there are no impacts on marine biology.
The report also, mentions that “the 24 pagadiys have been identified as a part of the NIO study and the actually affected pagadiyas could be much larger than assumed in the study”. To add insult to injury, it also adds that the Livelihood Improvement Plan does not provide for a long-term development support activity which would enable pagadiyas to earn incomes comparable to income foregone from lower yields of pagadiya fishing resulting from impacts of the discharge channel. This just reflects the apathetic attitude of CGPL and ADB toward the affected people. On one hand, they have not even identified all affected people in the last 5 years and on top of that, the ones identified have also not been rehabilitated. Does ADB want us to believe this is a serious process of compliance?
Moreover, even on issues of ambient air quality impact studies, the CRP report states that the quality of data collected is of poor quality. It is of the view that such quantitative correlation impact assessment carried out with data where there are large data gaps, is unlikely to produce reliable results. The studies have still not been translated and shared with communities. Even with the Baseline Health Profile with Respect to Air Quality in Airshed of the CGPL Power Plant, the CRP notes that they have expressed concern about the insufficient sample size, particularly with respect to respiratory diseases of children.
After, so many years of engagement this entire process of approaching the CRP for compliance seems to be a futile exercise. Even the bare minimum remedial action plan is being complied with either in letter or spirit. This report has come with another follow-up plan of the CRP which is as meaningless to the affected community as the process till now has been. This report is a reminder of the ADB’s noncommitment to its operational policies, to the marginalized communities and to the environment. CRP’s intervention also becomes completely futile in the absence of any power to act on its very own findings.
After 5 years of the filing of the complaint, we are still standing at the first step where even the public consultations have not been fairly conducted. Our livelihood is stolen. From a position of self-sufficient communities, we are made to seek charity from the company and ADB now. Today, we stand at a total position loss; Our dignity is ripped off. It is a shame that we have to say that we have no faith in this entire process and reject this sham we are getting in the name of compliance.
We urge ADB to understand the urgency of the current situation and draft an action plan in consultation with the affected people based on the findings of CRP and come with time-bound action plan with punitive action for noncompliance. The absence of this will reinforce that ADB has no respect for its own policies and objects.
Machimar Adhikaar Sangharsh Sangathan
Centre for Financial Accountability
Bharat Patel – +91-9426469803
Anuradha Munshi – +91-9792411555