Mundra fishermen, farmers file lawsuit against IFC in US

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Fishing communities and farmers represented by the EarthRights International have filed a law suit against the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a federal court in Washington D.C alleging the Tata Power’s Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat threatened their health and caused loss of livelihood.

IFC, the private-lending arm of the World Bank Group funded the Ultra Mega Power Project of Tata Power located in Mundra, Gujarat. The 4,150 MW plant began operating at full capacity in 2013.

According to the court complaint, the plant has already affected the life of people in the region and pollution discharged from the cooling system has led to a decline in fish population affecting the fishermen.

“The fish catch has been declining since 2011. I don’t know what other profession I could do to support my family,” said a plaintiff Budha Ismail Jam, a local fisherman in a statement issued by EarthRights International.

IFC provided $450 million loan to the project, enabling its construction and giving it immense influence over project design and implementation. IFC borrowers are expected to take precautions to protect vulnerable communities’ and the environment.

“The IFC failed on all counts with the Tata Mundra project,” says 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.”

“While the IFC is likely to argue that it is immune from suit, no institution should be above the law in a case where the risks were so obvious from the start, and the failure to act so damaging,” said Herz.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for harm to property and economic livelihoods, and asks the court order the IFC to enforce the provisions of the loan agreement which were intended to protect local communities and the environment to minimize future harm.

ERI also represents Ranubha Jadeja, a local farmer, the fishermen's organization, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan and the Navinal Panchayat (village), a local government entity.

Published on April 24, 2015

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