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Panel Registers Request for Inspection of India Water and Sanitation Project

The Inspection Panel on November 5, 2018, issued a Notice of Registration of a Request for Inspection of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project for Low Income States (RWSSP) in India.
RWSSP is a US$1 billion project, US$500 million equivalent of which is financed by the International Development Association and the rest by the government of India. The project’s development objective is, in part, “to improve piped water supply and sanitation services for selected rural communities in the target states through decentralized delivery systems.”
The Request for Inspection was filed on September 21, 2018, by 104 Santhal tribal community members from a village in the state of Jharkhand. On October 9, 2018, the Requesters, who asked for confidentiality, supplemented their Request, explaining the alleged harm in further detail.  They are concerned about the construction of a water treatment plant in their village as part of a scheme financed under the RWSSP. They claim 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 contend they may lose access to community resources and medicinal herbs. Additionally, they express concern over the environmental impacts of the proposed plant, the lack of analysis of alternatives and insufficient environmental and social assessment. They also claim lack of consultation and information disclosure in local languages and express concern about retaliation.
The Panel’s registration implies no judgment concerning the merits of the Request. Management has 21 business days, until December 6, 2018, to provide the Panel with a response to the issues raised in the Request.