Local group Srijan Lokhit Samiti along with other CSO’s write to the US Exim Bank demanding accountability for financing the disastrous Project
On April 10, 2020, the fly ash dam for the Sasan coal plant in Singrauli Madhya Pradesh burst, causing a flood of toxic waste which ran through adjacent villages, washing through thousands of acres of land and destroying agricultural crops and killing six people, including two children. Singrauli District Collector KVS Chaudhary reportedly stated that the breach occurred owing to the negligence of the plant and compensation will be given to the villagers. This project has been funded by US Exim Bank along with other banks, which include Chinese banks, and 12 state-owned banks and lenders led by SBI.
Reliance Power’s Sasan coal plant has been in in the news previously also for all wrong reasons. The project has been responsible for deaths of workers at the plant earlier as well. In July 2014, local group Srijan Lokhit Samiti along with other civil Society organizations wrote to the office of Inspector General (OIG) of the US Exim Bank pointing towards the human rights violations and environmental and social violations that marred the project. In the 2015 Report by the OIG, 19 fatalities at the plant were confirmed. Monitoring reports submitted to EXIM revealed that at least another eight deaths have occurred subsequently. The monitoring reports have only been provided through March 2018, so additional deaths might have occurred since then. Despite this no action was taken by the US Exim bank. Instead EXIM’s registry of complaints lists a closed the complaint for Sasan, stating that concerns about worker protections had been addressed with the “improved enforcement of safety regime and enhanced compliance monitoring.”
With this break of the ash dyke, which was caused by willful negligence of the management, it’s a reminder of the failures to hold the financiers and the corporates accountable for their doings. The situation that has arisen today is partly, a result of failures of institutions like the US Exim Bank who don’t uphold their own environmental and social standards and go ahead and provide finance to corporates like Reliance Power without any demand for accountability. It is this support from these International Financial Institutions that provides impunity to corporations, to operate with total non-transparency and lack of accountability.
The local group Srijan Lokhit Samiti along with the other civil society organizations have written to the US Exim Bank, as well as the OIG pointing towards the failures take any relevant step and genuine steps to correct the situation or provide relief to the affected. The letter also, asks the Bank to correct these errors and immediately end its relationship with Reliance, and require the debts to be repaid in full.