Panel Issues Notice of Non-Registration for Bangladesh Project
The Inspection Panel on October 18 issued aNotice of Non-Registrationof a Request for Inspection of the Bangladesh Trade and Transport Studies RETF Project, which includes a feasibility study of route options connecting Thegamukh and Chittagong Port and detailed feasibility and design studies for the preferred route. On August 31, the Panel had received a complaint from members of indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts area of Bangladesh who claimed to represent four indigenous communities living in the Rangamati district. The complainants, who requested confidentiality, alleged the absence of meaningful engagement with indigenous peoples and raised concerns over land issues, forests, the environment and cultural sites. They also mentioned impacts on traders and demographic changes. The Panel conducted extensive due diligence and learned that the World Bank did not accept the feasibility study of route options because it was not satisfied with the standard of consultations and the quality of the draft. The Panel received a memorandum from Bank management assuring the Panel that the Bank would not proceed with any activities to connect Thegamukh and Chittagong Port. Since the draft feasibility study did not cause a material adverse effect and because there is no longer the potential for harm to materialize given the Bank’s decision not to move forward with any activities with regard to connecting Thegamukh and Chittagong Port, the Panel decided not to register the complaint. However, the Panel noted that if the Bank re-engages in the activities mentioned in the complaint in the future or new evidence becomes available, the Panel could reassess the existence of a plausible link between a Bank-supported project and the alleged harm.