Press Statement | July 18, 2013
Severe Impacts Undermined while Tata Seeks Expansion of the Mundra Project: New Report Says.
New Delhi: An increase of 20% of severe respiratory diseases is reported among children in the villages near to Tata Mundra power project in Gujarat. The menace of coal dust and fly ash is putting the lives of people and that of animals and horticulture at risk. Water in the outlet channel is at a whopping 35.6-35.8oC, which no marine life accustomed to a Gulf of Kutchh ‘normal’ of 30-31.8 C at this time of the year, will be able to bear.
These are some of the staggering findings of a report released today in Delhi – The Increasing Human Cost of Coal Power. The Report is a supplementary report to the Real Cost of Power, which was released in June 2012 after an independent fact finding team concluded its investigations.
Real Cost of Power said in its report “The (Tata Mundra Ultra Mega) project has disproportionately high social, environmental, and economic costs. The company, the licensing agencies of the Government of Gujarat and India, and the national and international financial institutions have either ignored or willfully neglected the high social and environmental costs and did little to mitigate them.
It further said, “The Social Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment are misleading and erroneous, having excluded a large number of communities whose loss of livelihood was overlooked. Cumulative impact studies required to understand the overall impacts were not done. The governments and the IFIs are equally complicit in the violations by the company.”
Releasing the report senior activist Soumya Dutta said, “The impacts which was noted by the fact finding team was at a time when only one unit of the 4000 MW plant was operational. Today, since all units of the project are on steam, the impacts are manifold and no agency, either of the Governments or of the financial institutions, are monitoring it and people and the environment is at high risk.”
The report also noted about the colossal damage caused to the mangroves due to the construction activities of the company and the negative impact on the local economy due to the damage caused to the horticulture, particularly Chikku and Date Palms.
Issues related to migrant labourers, the poor conditions in which they are living and the social unrest due to increase in drinking are also noted by the report. Drinking has led to serious domestic violence and there are many instances where the women forced the police to take actions against illicit liquor brewing.
“With projects like Tata Mundra, Adani, OPG etc, the coast of Kutchh is a dying coast,” said Bharat Patel, General Secretary of Machimaar Adhikaar Sangharsh Sangathan, the local struggle of fishworkers against power projects in the Mundra coast. “The air is polluted, mangroves are damaged, temperature of the sea water has increased, livelihoods of thousands of fishworkers are severely affected… all because of these power projects and some other industries in the region. Both Tata Mundra and the adjacent Adani projects are only interested in doing superficial activities in the villages in the name of CSR, and the real pressing issues of the people are not addressed.”
In June 2011 Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights) sent a complaint to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, the recourse mechanism at the International Finance Corporation, of the World Bank Group. The complaint now moves to the compliance arm of the CAO, after the Ombudsman has submitted the assessment report.
The complaint emerged to hold IFC accountable for co-financing the 4,000 MW coal-based Tata Ultra Mega Power Plant. Lodged by fishing and farming villagers, the complaint claims that due to flawed design and execution, including breaches of mandatory client obligations, the mammoth coal-fired power plant is contributing to the destruction livelihood of thousands of families and will cause irreparable damage to their fragile marine resources and agriculture.
With a total project cost of US$ 4.14 billion, the IFC is investing a $450 million loan and $50 million in equity. Other financial institutions funding the project are the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, the State Bank of Indore and other local banks.
In June 2012 an independent fact finding team, headed by Justice (retired) S N Bhargava, former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, as well as former Chairperson of Human Rights Commissions of Assam and Manipur investigated the social and environmental issues of the project and released a report – The Real Cost of Power. The other members were Dr. Varadarajan Sampath, a marine scientist; Praful Bidwai, senior journalist and columnist; Jarjum Ete, former Chairpersion of the Commission for Women, Arunachal Pradesh; and Soumya Dutta, energy specialist and national convenor of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha.
Complaint to CAO: http://tinyurl.com/o5mnxcq
The Real Cost of Power: http://tinyurl.com/pz363fa
Coal Kills: http://tinyurl.com/p3ulp44
Bharat Patel: +91-9426469803
Soumya Dutta: +91-9213763756
Joe Athialy: +91-9871153775