World Bank to continue aid

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- Despite hectic campaigning by the groups opposed to the Narmada dam plus a hefty boost from the anti-dam salvo fired by Bradford Morse and Thomas Berger, who formed a two-member independent review commission, the World Bank has taken a decision to continue funding the Sardar Sarovar project. However, in April 1993, the World Hank will again review the progress made by the Indian government in rehabilitating people evicted from the proposed dam site before it takes a further decision on continuing aid.

In a letter to World Bank president Lewis Preston on October 13, Morse and Berger contended the board of directors was being misled about the independent commission's findings. Insisting the World Bank's incremental strategy had "filed", Morse and Berger warned "the well-being of tens of thousands of peoples" would be risked unless the bank recognised this failure.

Meanwhile, another fillip to the anti-dam protests came from World Bank chief counsel Ian Newport, who pointed out that the borrowing states had failed to implement and agreement on rehabilitation and resettlement. World Bank observers say continues assaults on the way the Narmada project is being implemented have forced the board of directors to defer their meeting more than once. The observers maintain the decision on funding was a close call especially as government lobbying for the dam has not kept pace with anti-dam propaganda. One exception to this was Union finance minister Manmohan Singh's attempts to persuade the World Bank during its September meeting to continue funding the project. The Gujarat government was determined to mobilise finances from wealthy Gujarat businessmen abroad, should the World Bank halt financing. Luckily for both governments, the World Bank decided to nod yes.

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