Rare win for Nepal indigenous groups as EIB admits 'gaps' in hydropower project | Land Portal

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged to address gaps in the implementation of a power project in Nepal, handing a rare victory to indigenous groups and local communities who had raised concerns about being uprooted from their land.

A complaint by Nepali civil society groups had pointed to inadequate analysis of environmental and social impacts of the Marsyangdi Corridor Transmission Line project, and a failure to consult with local communities and obtain their consent.

An EIB investigation found some of the allegations “concerning gaps in the implementation” of its environmental and social policies were “partly substantiated,” the EIB said in a statement last week.

“The Bank is committed to respecting human rights throughout its investments. Moreover, the Bank fully acknowledges the important role that civil society can play in their promotion and protection,” the EIB said.

The EIB has developed a “corrective environmental and social action plan”, and an independent local expert will help implement the recommendations, it said, adding that it will also launch a public consultation to review its policy and standards.

Worldwide, the rush to adopt renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions is hurting rural and indigenous communities disproportionately, with their lands taken for solar, wind, bioenergy and hydropower projects, human rights groups say.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) in Berlin recorded about 200 allegations of land rights and indigenous rights abuses, displacement, violence and threats in the last decade related to renewable energy projects worldwide.

Renewable energy is seen as an “important development priority” in Nepal’s constitution, with hydropower the main source to address acute power shortages that have marred economic growth in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The EIB agreed a 100-million-euro loan in 2015 to expand Nepal’s power transmission grid to meet domestic electricity demand “by connecting new hydroelectric schemes to the national grid and to facilitate cross-border power exchange with India”.

The 220 kV Marsyangdi Corridor transmission line passes through ancestral lands of several indigenous groups, and hundreds of households will lose their land and fields, said Chandra Misra, secretary of the FPIC & Rights Forum that filed the complaint in 2018.

Communities had been “left in the dark about its design, route, impacts and mitigation measures,” said Misra, calling for construction to be halted until indigenous communities were informed and could decide whether to consent.

Nepal is a signatory to the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 to protect indigenous rights, including to traditional land and resources, and to consultation and participation in issues relating to their own development.

Yet hydropower projects often fail to uphold indigenous rights, Nepal community groups say, with residents also not consulted on the Tanahu hydropower project funded by the EIB and the Asian Development Bank.

The Marsyangdi Corridor transmission line investigation “has far-reaching impacts for internationally financed development projects impacting the lands of indigenous peoples, both in Nepal and beyond,” said Anirudha Nagar, communities director of the Accountability Counsel, an advocacy group.

Particularly now, as poorer nations turn to these institutions to help recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, they must ensure “rigorous safeguards compliance,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Now is a critical time for development finance institutions to take additional steps to ensure project-affected communities are aware of independent accountability mechanisms so they can raise issues as soon as they arise,” he added.

Reporting by Rina Chandran in Bangkok @rinachandran; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org

Copyright © Source (mentioned above). All rights reserved. The Land Portal distributes materials without the copyright owner’s permission based on the “fair use” doctrine of copyright, meaning that we post news articles for non-commercial, informative purposes. If you are the owner of the article or report and would like it to be removed, please contact us at hello@landportal.info and we will remove the posting immediately.

Various news items related to land governance are posted on the Land Portal every day by the Land Portal users, from various sources, such as news organizations and other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. The copyright lies with the source of the article; the Land Portal Foundation does not have the legal right to edit or correct the article, nor does the Foundation endorse its content. To make corrections or ask for permission to republish or other authorized use of this material, please contact the copyright holder.

Share this page