The Requesters allege non-compliance with the Bank’s policies on Environmental Assessment, Indigenous Peoples, Physical Cultural Resources and Involuntary Resettlement. They argue that the project failed to address historical land claims, pollution and labor concerns relating to a cement plant that used to be in the location of a new dry port. According to the Request, the dry port will have environmental and social impact on neighboring communities, including Newars, who the project did not identify as indigenous, thus infringing indigenous peoples’ rights in various ways. The Requesters argue that the project will also damage Chobhar’s historical, religious and cultural heritage, particularly the Jal Binayak Temple, one of the Valley’s most important religious Ganesh shrines, as well as the historical Manjushree gorge, and a cremation site. Furthermore, they allege a lack of effective consultation, disclosure of information and grievance redress. They also raise concerns about the deployment of forces at the construction site against community members opposing the project.
The Panel registered the Request on May 27, 2020.
On July 28, 2020, the Panel sought from the Board approval to postpone its recommendation on whether to investigate the project until August 24, 2020, because COVID-19 and related restrictions prevented the Panel from conducting its field visit and it thus adopted a virtual format that required additional time to complete. On August 18, 2020, the Panel sought a second postponement until September 21, 2020, because it was unable to conduct field verification through the adopted virtual format due to the lockdown that was imposed at the time in Nepal. After conducting its document review and virtual engagements with different stakeholders, the Panel noted the complexity of this case and the need to conduct a field visit to be able to make its recommendation to the Board. As such, the Panel on September 21, 2020, requested a third postponement of the deadline for its investigation recommendation until four weeks from the date that World Bank missions to Nepal are reauthorized and national travel restrictions that would inhibit the Panel team from visiting the project area have been lifted. The Board approved the Panel’s extension request on September 22, 2020.