A World Bank investigative panel found that the Andhra Pradesh government has lied to the bank over the upcoming State capital city of Amaravati. A report submitted by the panel has raised concerns over aspects such as Resettlement Plan, Food Insecurity, and Environmental issues, and recommended that the bank should undertake a comprehensive probe into them before taking a decision on financing the Amaravati capital development project.
The panel’s report, addressed to the Board of the Executive Directors of the Bank asked the bank to “carry out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related potential non-compliance with bank policies especially relating to involuntary resettlement… with a primary focus on the resettlement aspects of the bank’s proposed project as well as environmental concerns and issues related to consultation, participation, and disclosure of information as they pertain to its financing policies and practices.”
Through its Land Pooling Scheme, the Andhra Pradesh government claims to have pooled at least 33,000 acres of land from over 29 villages for the construction of Amaravati since December 2014. The state’s Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) had earlier approached the World Bank to grant a loan of a few thousand crores to further various projects in the making of the capital city.
Acting on a request for inspection from a large group of farmers over allegations of forced land pooling and irregularities by the government and to verify the compliance of its policies before financing for the development of the capital region, an investigative panel from the world bank had visited a number of villages in the state for two days on August 29,30 and has submitted its recommendations in a 102 page report.
Although the state government claimed that the farmers have given their lands voluntarily, the panel’s preliminary investigation recorded allegations of intimidation and forceful land pooling in the implementation of the scheme. The panel recorded that the implementation of government promises over resettlement plan is being done in an unfair manner.
The panel also noted the plight of landless agricultural wage labourers who no longer were able to farm in the Amaravati region. They told the panel that they have to travel far to find agricultural work and often cannot find jobs. They emphasised that they have farmed for their entire lives and were not trained to perform other work.
The panel recorded concerns over the possibility of floods on Kondaveeti Vagu River as the farmlands adjacent to the river are ‘wetlands’ which was unaddressed by CRDA to the World Bank. It also noted concerns over food security resulting from the large-scale conversion of agriculture land into urban land. It was told against official information that the crops cultivated in the region are not used for daily consumption by people.
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