MAC: Mines and Communities

ADB chief gets 'dirty coal' gift from Thai villagers

Published by MAC on 2006-05-07

ADB chief gets 'dirty coal' gift from Thai villagers


7th May 2006

Hyderabad: Even as the 39th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) started amidst fanfare, NGOs and people's fora made a mark on Wednesday by raising their voice right at the venue of the event, Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

In one such case, three village leaders from Thailand presented a bowl of coal to ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda in a symbolic indictment of the bank's continued funding of climate change through what NGOs called, "dirty coal power plants". A villager, who spoke to Kuroda, said, "The financing of the Mae Moh and BLCP coal plants in Thailand by the ADB is an environmental crime."

"The ADB should immediately withdraw finance for the coal projects and all future construction should be halted until a full environmental audit is conducted, which will make clear the huge toll that such monster projects take on the environment and the people who live there," he said.

However, the community leaders got no positive response from the ADB president. "Kuroda was not forthcoming. He presented a stock argument saying energy is important for Asia. He also asserted that the bank would invest in clean coal, instead of dirty coal. But we refused the argument by saying there is no clean coal. It is only coal," said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace, who brought the community leaders to the ADB meet.

The president assured the protesters that the bank was equally concerned about environmental hazards of such projects and wanted to invest about $1 billion towards 'cleaner energy'. However, he said the ADB investments in such developmental projects were aimed at improving the economy of the country and would continue.

Meanwhile, the leaders also demanded that the ADB president repatriate affected villages at least five kilometres away from the mines, investigate the cause of the respiratory illnesses and provide compensation to villagers. This apart, they demanded that the ADB stop funds for the proposed expansion of lignite mines at these places.

About 97 Greenpeace activists [and] NGOs from Asian countries had undertaken a three-day protest programme here against the ADB funding projects which is destroying "rural life all over the country".

NGOs against any funding for Jalayagnam

The Andhra Pradesh government might be going all out to impress upon the Asian Development Bank to get funding for its mega 'Jalayagnam,' but NGOs and people's forums are opposing it. Though these organisations are in favour of renewable energy projects, the opposition is to mega dams which, the NGOs claim, do not come under this sector.

The energy campaigners argue that only small and micro hydro projects come under the renewable energy category. "The big irrigation and hydro projects that the AP government is planning are net 'green house gas emitters.' By displacing villagers and green cover, the projects do more harm than good," Greenpeace campaigner K Srinivas told TOI.

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