Bhubaneswar, Nov 14:
The Sambalpur-based Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has questioned the motives and justification behind Odisha government’s decision to seek the so-called ‘assistance’ from World Bank and ADB for post cyclone reconstruction work in the state and demanded wide public consultations before accepting the offer.
Stating that both the banks will reportedly give assistance to the tune of $313 million (World Bank – $208 and ADB – $105) Ranjan Panda, convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha said there is no clarity in the matter because government spokespersons have conceded a part of this will be ‘soft loan’.
“While we welcome any idea of assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the Phailin and flood affected areas that has affected more than 12 million people, we don’t understand why the government needs loans for this?”, said Panda in the statement.
“World Bank and ADB loans have always come with conditions. These need to be first discussed with the people of the state'” Panda said adding, “We have seen how these institutions have tried to influence our ‘governance systems’ and have promoted more privatization and polluting industries than doing any good.”
“In fact, many of their finances aggravate impacts of climate change and disasters. We need to analyse all aspects of such assistance before receiving them”, warned Panda.
Panda has urged the government to discuss this with the people of the state and make the documents public.
“We demand that the detailed project reports for all the activities, along with the conditions set by these institutions, be made public and appropriate suggestions sought before the final decision is taken” said Panda. “The World Bank and ADB have been trying to push through their loans in non-transparent ways and we have to see that the poor people of the state do not fall victim to any stringent conditions,” he said.
According to reliable sources, while the World Bank is proposing to provide loans for plantation of mangrove forests under the ‘Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZM)’, the ADB is proposing to provide loan to strengthen river and saline embankments. “Both of these activities need critical scrutiny by involvement of local people and experts”, Panda said.
“The ICZM has so far not been able to make much headway in promoting mangrove preservation. Therefore, relying upon it should not be encouraged. Similarly, many a times embankments have actually caused more devastation during floods and hence need to be thoroughly planned with integration of local knowledge and technology. The government should consider these along with other ecological issues while planning coastal zone management”, urged Panda.