World Bank accused of reporting false consent on Nepal power line project

26 September 2016

In mid-August representatives of people affected by the World Bank-funded Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line (KDTL) in Nepal wrote to the Bank’s management. The letter sought clarification over statements made in a progress report to the Bank’s board on the implementation of the agreed action plan following the Inspection Panel’s (IPN, the Bank’s accountability mechanism) investigation into a 2013 complaint (see Observer Spring 2016, Spring 2014). The progress report alleged that the affected community had agreed with the chief district officer that construction work for the disputed section of the transmission line could be continued, arguing that reasons for subsequent protests by community members were “unclear”. However, according to the letter “no agreement was made”. It alleged that in April and July members of the community were arrested and forced to sign documents giving assurances that they would not obstruct project construction “through coercion” while in custody. The letter argued that the agreement is therefore “invalid”, and that this has already been voiced publically. It stressed: “the communities are opposed to the implementation of the KDTL project, which is being forced ahead without adequate consultation.” A second letter was sent to the Bank’s board in late August which stated that “management has refused” to rectify the progress report’s “false representation”, and reiterated the community’s concerns in more detail.

The letters to the Bank followed a July letter to Bank president Jim Yong Kim from the Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples and the Accountability Counsel, on behalf of the affected communities. The letter argued that the communities “have been raising their concerns about the impacts of the project for nearly a decade without adequate or timely response”. It noted: “Nearly a year has passed since the Panel’s report, but the situation … continues to deteriorate due to Bank management’s reluctance to take tangible action.”