A recommendation from the Inspection Panel (IPN, the Bank’s independent accountability mechanism), on whether to fully investigate a complaint related to a $300 million proposed loan for the construction of Amaravati – the new capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh – was deferred for a further nine months in July.
In March 2017, the IPN received an investigation request from landowners residing at the proposed site of Amaravati, who claimed alleged harm from the land pooling scheme (LPS) required for the new development. In the request, residents alleged, “that many landowners and farmers were intimidated and economically coerced to participate in the LPS.” In September 2017, following an initial site visit, the IPN recommended the Bank’s Board approve a full investigation of the case; in November 2017, however, the Bank’s management provided a list of proposed activities that attempted to address the requestors’ concerns. The IPN is still evaluating whether to recommend a full investigation in light of these proposed activities.
The Amaravati development – which is also slated to get $200 million in co-financing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – has become a lightning rod for criticism from Indian civil society organisations. At the People’s Convention on Infrastructure Finance in June, which occurred alongside the AIIB’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, participating groups issued a resolution, noting that, “India, the largest recipient of AIIB loans, has become a site of corporate land grabs… A prime example of this is Amravati [sic]…which is being developed on the fertile plains of the Krishna river and 50,000 acres of fertile farmland…is being forcibly ‘acquired’ from farmers and workers.”