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Open letter to PM Modi – Adopt a transparent process while making AIIB operational’

The Prime Minister,
Government of India
New Delhi

Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Modi,

We, the representatives of people’s movements and other civil society organisations, would like to bring to your notice certain pertinent issues regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

India is one of the founding members that has played a crucial role in the formation of AIIB right from its announcement and is the second largest investor of the Bank.  With its membership ratified on 11th January, 2016, India was elected to the 12 member Board of Directors with 10.34% voting rights on 16th January, 2016 and now also shares the Vice Presidential post and the post of Chief Investment Officer. It is unfortunate that the ratification of India’s membership to the Bank was done without a public debate. This deprives the citizens of a platform to raise their concerns and apprehensions about the functioning of the Bank, while the impact of the investments would be borne by the them. There are news reports stating that India would receive half of the $1.2 Billion the bank would disburse for infrastructure projects by the end of 2016. Further we are aware that AIIB has promised quick disbursal of funds with ‘high efficiency at low cost’ and takes pride in its ‘lean, green and clean’ policy. While the Bank seems a little too eager to start its investments, the same does not reflect on ensuring a strong set of safeguard policies.

At this juncture the AIIB is to finalize its Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) and we strongly feel that this demands a serious debate. We would also like to remind you that the first draft proposal negotiations were all on-line and only in English, leaving a large number of people out of the consultations. There were no face-to-face consultations. Further, the draft itself came under criticism for outsourcing the responsibility for Environmental and Social Standards to the clients and for looking at ESF as risk management among other things.

The need for infrastructure development is one that cannot be discounted in a rapidly growing economy like our country. These developmental projects would have the positive impact that the government wishes, only when proper safeguards and accountability mechanisms are in place. This could only be achieved if the new banks, especially AIIB, moves away from the traditional thinking that safeguards are merely risk management measures and have them as mere formalities. The launch of SDG and the agreements in Paris by now make it clear that economic ambitions cannot be achieved by endangering the environment. In a country that houses large populations that have been displaced without proper rehabilitation and facing serious and irreversible damages to its natural resources cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes.

In short, we would like to urge you to:

  1. Ensure an open debate both within and outside the Parliament on role in and implications for India, and Environment and Social Framework that the Bank would uphold.

  2. Insist on face to face consultations with the civil society groups during all stages of finalizing the ESF

  3. The safeguards should match the international best practices, and legally binding on member states

  4. Ensure independent accountability mechanism in AIIB, to look into the non-compliances of policies.

  5. Ensure proper consultations with people likely to be harmed and seek their free, prior and informed consent before investing in large infrastructure projects.

Banks with focus on investing in infrastructure need to ensure that the investments do not bring in displacement and deprivation to the poor and vulnerable communities. We demand that the government should take appropriate measures to adopt a transparent process while making AIIB operational.

Signed by:

1.     National Alliance of People’s Movements

2.     Narmada Bachao Andolan

3.     National Fish workers’ Forum

4.     Indian Social Action Forum

5.     International Rivers

6.     Samajvadi Samaagam

7.     Socialist Front

8.     South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People

9.     All India Kabaadi Mazdoor Mahasangh

  1. Bharat Jan Vigyan Jattha

  2. Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam

  3. Delhi Forum, New Delhi

  4. Bhumika Women’s Collective, Telangana

  5. Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Manipur

  6. Domestic Workers Union, Karnataka

  7. Feminist Learning Partnerships, Haryana

  8. Garment Labour Union, Karnataka

  9. Global Human Rights Communications

  10. Hazards Centre, New Delhi

  11. Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur

  12. Institute for Democracy and Sustainability, New Delhi

  13. Machchhimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, Gujarat

  14. Maatu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand

  15. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Maharashtra

  16. Odisha Chas Parivesh Suraksha Parishad, Odissa

  17. Public Finance Public Accountability Collective

  18. The Research Collective, New Delhi

  19. Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar

  20. Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi

  21. Khudai Khidmatgar, Haryana

  22. Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

  23. Kosi Navnirman Manch, Bihar

  24. Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha

  25. Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Odisha

  26. Paryavaran Mitra, Gujarat

  27. Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, Gujarat

  28. Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

  29. Tamilnadu Pondy Fisherpeople Federation

  30. Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, Tamilnadu

  31. Environics Trust, New Delhi

  32. Environment Support Group, Bangalore

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