Press Release: Indigenous peoples raise concern over India’s position on world bank safeguards

The adivasi and tribal peoples in India, together with indigenous organizations and support groups are alarmed by the position of the government of India regarding the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies and Proposed Environmental and Social Framework particularly ESS7 on indigenous peoples. In a letter of concern initiated by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and endorsed by 56 indigenous peoples organizations and institutions and 26 civil society organizations stated that the Government of India’s position is extremely problematic.  While a certain number of India’s domestic laws require consent from adivasi and tribal peoples on the use of their lands and resources, other laws contradicting this is being implemented violating the rights of indigenous peoples known as adivasi/ tribal peoples.  Further, efforts are being made through executive orders and by ignoring these laws to undermine the existing protection for adivasi/tribal peoples’ rights, such as the requirement to obtain consent under the Forest Act 2006 and Panchayat Raj (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. 

The adivasi and tribal peoples in India, together with indigenous organizations and support groups are alarmed by the position of the government of India regarding the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies and Proposed Environmental and Social Framework particularly ESS7 on indigenous peoples stating in particular that: 

We (government of India) are not comfortable with this provision. Domestic laws of acquisition and protection of such communities already provide for adequate safeguards including consent before acquisition can take place in certain cases. The Bank thus needs to rely on such domestic laws/guidelines where the domestic laws rules etc. take care of such issues. 

The proposed clauses like free, prior and informed consent (replacing consultation process) can lead to legal complications, delays, increase in costs and delay in project execution. Management has not been able to explain how the new framework is simple; less onerous and burdensome on the borrowers, compared to the present safeguards policy.

 “This position of the government of India is clearly not in conformity with their international human rights obligations and is lowering the bar of existing international social and environmental safeguards. This would mean further discrimination and exploitation to the more than 80 million indigenous peoples of India, already suffering from wide-scale landgrabbing and marginalization. ” said Ms. Joan Carling, Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

In a letter of concern initiated by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and endorsed by 56 indigenous peoples organizations and institutions and 26 civil society organizations stated that the Government of India’s position is extremely problematic.  While a certain number of India’s domestic laws require consent from adivasi and tribal peoples on the use of their lands and resources, other laws contradicting this is being implemented violating the rights of indigenous peoples known as adivasi/ tribal peoples.  Further, efforts are being made through executive orders and by ignoring these laws to undermine the existing protection for adivasi/tribal peoples’ rights, such as the requirement to obtain consent under the Forest Act 2006 and Panchayat Raj (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. The World Bank cannot thereby rely on domestic laws of India to guarantee protection of indigenous peoples’ rights. Currently, the World Bank has a number of projects in the pipeline, especially in the North East part where indigenous peoples are not being properly consulted and their consent is not being obtained for the implementation of such projects.

The letter to the Prime Minister of India further stated that the implementation of the requirement for free, prior and informed consent and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights provides a right-respecting environment where conflicts can be avoided, security to investors is improved. This letter will also be submitted by indigenous leaders to the Board of Directors and the President of the World Bank during the meeting of Indigenous Peoples and World Bank Officials on April 13-15 in Washington DC. 

The AIPP is a regional organization of indigenous peoples movements in Asia actively promoting and defending indigenous peoples rights and human rights, sustainable development and management of resources and environment protection.

For more information contact:

Ms. Joan Carling : joan@aippnet.org

 

Click here to see the letter of concern to government of India 

 

 

 

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