New World Bank Strategy Proposes $550m for Dams in India

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The World Bank Board of Directors will decide on a new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for India on Thursday, August 26. In this strategy, the World Bank proposes to double loans to India, and to spend $550 million on new dams in 2005-08. Indian and international civil society groups reject the proposed strategy.

Ann Kathrin Schneider of International Rivers just returned from a visit to potential dam sites in India. Schneider warns:

    “The World Bank has not learned lessons from its past mistakes in building dams. The Bank is currently considering dams in the Himalayas that would destroy vast areas of pristine forest, and would not increase poor people’s access to electricity. The Indian Hydroelectric utility that will construct the dams, NHPC, is known for brutal displacement without resettlement.”

The new World Bank strategy was written without input from civil society and the Indian parliament. A coalition of more than 20 Indian NGOs therefore states in a position paper:

    “We reject the World Bank Country Assistance Strategy. It does not represent the interests of the Indian population as expressed in the recent elections. The CAS deliberately ignores that the electorate rejected the World Bank policies of privatization and liberalization when it voted out governments in the three Indian states that closely followed World Bank policies in the past.”

Civil society groups received a leaked copy of the confidential World Bank strategy. A position paper of 20 Indian NGOs and more than 50 international civil society groups criticizes the bank’s strategy for India’s water and power sectors. The World Bank has decided to finance additional power generation, mainly dams, although almost 50% of the power generated in India is lost through leakages in the system. While most of the Indian population remains unconnected to the public power system, the World Bank does not offer any strategies that would help increase poor people’s access to electricity.

For more information please contact:

      Souparna Lahiri, Delhi Forum
      Tel: + 91 11 2668 0883

      Ann Kathrin Schneider, International Rivers
      Tel: +1 510 848 1155

This press statement and the civil society position paper have been endorsed by the following groups:

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Madhya Pradesh
Soumitra Ghosh, NESPON, West Bengal
Sunita Dubey, New Delhi
Ginny Shrivastava, Astha, Rajasthan
R Sreedhar, mm&P, New Delhi
Leo Saldanha, Environmental Support Group, Bangalore
Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams Rivers & People, New Delhi
Smitu Kothari, Lokayan, New Delhi
Benny Kuruvilla, Focus on the Global South, Mumbai
Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Save the Forest Movement, Jharkhand
Sukhdev Vishnu Premi, Navrachna, Himachal Pradesh
Ravindra Nath, Rural Volunteers Centre, Assam
Souparno Lahiri, Delhi Forum, New Delhi
W Ramanand, Citizens Concern on Dams and Development, NE
Ashok Chowdhury, National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers
D Roy Laifungbam, CORE, Manipur
Prakash Louis, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi
Ann Kathrin Schneider, Habitat International Coalition, South Asia Regional Network Himanshu Upadhyaya
Vimalbhai, MATU – People’s Organisation, Uttaranchal
Chittaroopa Palit, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Madhya Pradesh
Ravi Rebbapragada, Samatha, Andhra Pradesh