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Experience file Dossier : Human Rights in India

Kerala anti - ADB campaign gain support from outside

Kerala’s anti-ADB campaign received a shot in the arm as activists from outside the state under the banner of Peoples Forum Against ADB (PFAADB) came out in support a few days back in Thiruvanathapuram. Speaking about the disastrous experience with Asian Development Bank (ADB) loans in Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal activists warned that a similar experience was in store for Kerala.

On 22 February 2007 the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) state committee meeting came to the conclusion there was nothing wrong in sanctioning the ADB supported 1422

crore rupee Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP). 2 days later the ‘Anti ADB loan campaign committee’ filed a legal notice to the Government of Kerala citing several violations in the signing of the loan by Kerala Resident Commissioner Inderjit Singh in New Delhi on 8 December 2006. The Government is yet to respond to the notice.

The Karnataka Experience

‘Karnataka has the dubious distinction of receiving India’s first ADB loan in the urban sector’, said Vidya Dinker, Coordinator of the Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development, an alliance of concerned citizens.

The ADB funded Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Project (KUIDP) was sanctioned in 1995 and amounted to $ 105 million (472.5 crores). Another loan, the Karnataka Urban Development and Coastal Environmental Management Project (KUDCEMP) was sanctioned in 1999 for an amount of $ 175 million (Rupees 787.5 crores).

Dinker termed the experience of ADB loans in Karnataka as dismal and a wasteful expenditure of hundreds of crores. ' We were told that the ADB would bring in world-class urban expertise but it fell far short on planning and implementation. Of course the ADB ensured that consultants received world-class fees of several lakh rupees a month, but all we have now are shoddy projects with acute design flaws, she added. ADB project towns are now struggling to repay the loan due to faulty calculations by consultants on raising resources through new taxes and cost recovery in water distribution.

The Chattisgarh Experience

In Chattisgarh peoples groups such as Nadi Ghati Morcha are campaigning against the ADB’s Chattisgarh Irrigation Development Project. ‘This project will benefit agribusiness companies at the cost of peoples livelihood. It will also adversely impact agro diversity in the region and lead to food insecurity, explained Gautam Bandhopadyay, the group’s Coordinator.

Bandhopadyay also spoke about the dangers inherent in the 900 crore ADB funded Urban Water supply and Environment Improvement Project in Madhya Pradesh. ‘Conditionalities dictated by the ADB will gradually lead to privatisation of water distribution in the 6 largest urban centers in the state, he warned.

ADBs Kolkata Environment Improvement Project National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers Steering Committee member Mohan Kothekar elaborated on the anti-people conditionalities present in the

ADBs Kolkata Environment Improvement Project (KEIP). ‘An examination of the loan agreement show a slew of conditionalities which include the establishment of a water supply and sewerage utility on corporate

principles, gradual phasing out of trash sorters and reorganization of the Municipal Council of Kolkata, clarified Kothekar.

T Peter, State President of the Kerala Swathantra Matsythozhilali Federation (KSMTF) said, ‘It is vital that people’s movements across

the country come together and jointly strategise on alternatives to

institutions such as the ADB’.

The PFAADB is a broad and diverse collective of over 100 social movements, struggle groups and civil society groups from across India and Asia, including the National Hawkers Federation, National Fishworkers Forum, Plachimada Solidarity Committee, New Trade Union Initiative, National Alliance of Peoples Movements, Indian Social Action Forum and National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers.