Exchange highlights continuing Bank resettlement problems in India

15 March 1999

At the half-way mark of the Bank’s controversial Coal India Environmental and Social Mitigation project local groups have criticised aspects of resettlement implementation. The Chotanagpur Adivasi Sewa Samiti, Bihar, India and the Bank. These complaints and the responses of Coal India and the Bank, will be examined in a mid-term review, due to report around April.

CASS points out that:

  1. people from villages such as Borwa Tola are being moved without the promised compensation package (self-employment schemes and houses);
  2. their “dehumanizing treatment and collapse of community fabric” has pushed many people to drink away their cash award;
  3. 750 coal-carrying baskets have been produced under an employment scheme but the coal company is not buying them. No other self-employment or training schemes have materialised;
  4. Coal India is not recognising customary land;
  5. promised reports of the Independent Monitoring Panel and others on income-generating schemes, training programmes and environmental impacts have not been made available to local communities or NGOs;
  6. local Public Information Centres are hardly functioning and have a limited range of documents;
  7. participation is limited to micro elements of the project and “display presentations” to affected people. One “village working group” was hastily assembled just in time for a Bank visit in September 1998;
  8. top soil is not being properly stored for backfilling after opencast mining is finished.

The Bank’s lengthy response recognises many of the problems raised in the letter, and states that they will be fed into the mid-term review to be carried out this spring. On some issues, such as release of monitoring reports and consultation on the mid-term review findings, however, the response is weak and non-comittal.

Letters available from the Bretton Woods Project.

  • Coal India resettlement implementation is also to be studied as part of the Bank’s “social capital” initiative to see whether bringing stakeholders together in a monthly meeting can build trust and achieve better resettlement outcomes. (See article below).