Fishing communities and farmers from Mundra in Kutch district on Thursday filed suit against the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-lending arm of the World Bank Group, in federal court in Washington, DC, through their representative EarthRights International (ERI).
The IFC provided a $450 million loan to the Tata Mundra UMPP. As per IFC’s rules demand that its borrowers take precautions to protect vulnerable communities’ and the environment. IFC is under obligation to supervise, monitor and enforcing these rules.
The fishermen have alleged that the IFC caused the loss of their livelihoods, destroyed their lands and water, and created threats to their health by funding the Tata Power’s coal-fired ultra-mega power plant in Mundra, Kutch.
The 4,150 MW power plant owned by Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd, as special purpose vehicle floated by Tata Power Ltd for the Mundra-based power plant, began operations at full capacity in 2013.
According to the court complaint, the plant has already affected the lives of the people who live in its vicinity. The thermal pollution
discharged from the plant’s cooling system has led to a decline in the fish populations that local fishing communities depend on.
One of the petitioners Budha Ismail Jam, a local fisherman said, “The fish catch has been declining since 2011. I don’t know what other profession I could do to support my family.”
Another petitioner Sidik Kasam Jam said that substantial coal dust and fly ash from the plant and its coal conveyor belt was harming local farms, the quality of fish, salt from the region, and the health of local people.
ERI also represents Ranubha Jadeja, a local farmer, the fishermen’s organization, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan and the Navinal village panchayat.
“The IFC failed on all counts with the Tata Mundra project,” alleged Rick Herz, ERI’s litigation coordinator. “While the IFC purports to support this project in the name of poverty reduction and development, its impacts fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”
Even the IFC’s own accountability mechanism – the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) – in 2013 held that the IFC had failed to ensure the Tata Mundra project met the applicable environmental and social standards that had been made binding conditions of the IFC’s loan.
The petitioners have also sought compensation for harm to property and economic livelihoods