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World Bank Board Discusses Panel’s Investigation Report on India Rural Water Supply Project; Approves Management Action Plan

India RWSSP Board Discussion

On March 2, 2023, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors discussed the Bank’s Inspection Panel’s Investigation Report of the India Rural Water Supply and Sanitation for Low Income States Project (RWSSP) (P132173).  The Board also approved Bank Management’s action plan to address the Panel’s Investigation Report findings.

The Santhal and Ho community members from the State of Jharkhand in India submitted the Requests for Inspection to the Panel in 2018. The first complainants were concerned about the construction in their village of a water treatment plant supported by the Bank-financed RWSSP. They claimed the plant is being built on their community land, which has historical and cultural significance to the Santhal tribe due to the presence of an ancestral sacred grove, as well as burial and cremation grounds. They also worried they will lose access to community resources and medicinal herbs. Furthermore, they are concerned about the environmental impact of the plant, and object to the lack of analysis of alternatives and the insufficient environmental and social assessments.

The second group of  Requesters complained about the construction of an elevated storage reservoir (ESR) in their village as part of the Chhotagovindpur water supply scheme financed under the RWSSP. They claimed the ESR is being built on their community land, which has historical and cultural significance to Santhali and Ho tribal members. They alleged the water-supply scheme requirement that they pay for water that is currently available for free will impoverish them, and expressed concern over the environmental impact of the scheme and insufficient environmental and social assessments. Both groups of complainants claimed  there was a lack of consultation, that project information was not disclosed in local languages, and that they feared retaliation. Since both Requests raised similar issues relating to the same project, the Panel processed them jointly.  The Panel registered the first Request on November 5, 2018, and the second Request on December 18, 2018. 

The Panel determined eligibility after reviewing the Requests and Management Responses and visiting the Project area in December 2018. On February 12, 2019, the Panel recommended investigation to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The Board approved this recommendation on March 1, 2019, and the Panel commenced its investigation, which focused on harm arising from noncompliance of Bank policies, particularly Environmental Assessment (OP/BP 4.01), Indigenous Peoples (OP/BP 4.10), Physical Cultural Resources (OP/BP 4.11), and Investment Project Financing.  The Panel submitted its Investigation Report to the Board on January 15, 2020.

In response to the Panel’s investigation findings, Bank management prepared and submitted an action plan to the World Bank Board on December 21, 2022.  The Board discussed the Panel’s Investigation Report and approved Bank Management’s action plan on March 2, 2023. 

Bank Management will submit annual progress reports on the implementation of the Board approved action plan, which will be published on the Panel’s RWSSP case page.  A press release in this regard can be found here.  Learn more about the case here.