World Bank panel to visit Amaravati

World Bank's inspection panel decides on this following requests from project-hit farmers.

By Author  |  Published: 1st Jul 2017  8:44 pm

Amaravati: The World Bank’s inspection panel, on the request of farmers and land owners of Amaravati capital city area, has decided to inspect the city before approving the US$ 715 million project proposal.

The panel chairman, Gonzalo Castro De La Mata, stated that, “On May 25, 2017, the panel received a request for inspection sent by landowners from the area proposed for the construction of the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati. The request for inspection concerns the World Bank’s proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project in India, which is scheduled to be approved by the Board in October 5, 2017”.

Objections of farmers

“The farmers alleged that they would be put to a loss by the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS) used to assemble the land required for the city and potential resettlement for the project. They claimed loss to them in the spheres of livelihoods, environment, food security, and lack of consultation and disclosure as a result of the bank’s non-compliance with its environmental and social standards,” he explained in a statement.

De La Mata added that after conducting its due diligence, on June 12, 2017, the panel registered the farmers’ request for inspection.

“The total financing of the project is US$ 715 million, of which the bank lending is proposed at US $ 300 million through an IBRD investment project financing loan. Some of the preparatory work for the project is being financed through a bank-executed trust fund for a grant amount of $0.17 million. The Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), as the borrower, is providing US$ 215 million, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is considering co-financing the amount of US$ 200 million,” he explained in the document.

Major objections of ryots

The farmers noted that some of the proposed project activities will be implemented on lands assembled under the LPS. They claimed that many landowners and farmers were intimidated and coerced to participate in the LPS. They stated that farmers who had declined to join the LPS would be forced to either pool their land under the LPS or their land would be acquired by the government under the Land Acquisition Act. In their view, neither option provides adequate compensation to restore livelihoods or purchase comparable replacement land.

The farmers also raised concern that the proposed project would create food insecurity since the Amaravati area contains “multi-crop irrigated land that produces 120 types of crops.” The request alleged that the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment and Environmental and Social Management Framework (SESA-ESMF) does not recognize multi-crop irrigated land as the primary land use in Amaravati area.

Environmental issue

The farmers noted that component 2 of the proposed project would affect the Kondaveeti Vagu river and claimed that the fields adjacent to the riverbed were wetlands which were not adequately addressed in the SESA-ESMF. They also raised concerns about the SESA-ESMF, including the lack of analysis of project alternatives and inadequate identification of environmental issues.