European Union Bank watchdog visits communities in Nepal concerned about Marsyangdi transmission line
March 19, 2019
LAMJUNG DISTRICT, NEPAL -- The European Investment Bank (EIB)’s independent watchdog– known as the Complaints Mechanism –visited Lamjung district of Nepal from March 15 to 18, 2019, to hear concerns ofcommunities affected by the EIB-funded 220 kV Marsyangdi Corridor, ahigh voltage transmission lineproject which is being implemented by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). The Head of the watchdog Ms. Sonja Derkum, and their most senior mediator, Ms. Lurdes Serra,visited 5 locations in Lamjung district spread out over a distance of about 40 km of the transmission line, including portions passing through the Annapurna Conservation Area.
Over the 4 days, about 700 affected community memberscame to meet the Complaints Mechanism. Women, men, elderly people, and young people– from different Indigenous, Brahmin and Dalit communities – directly raised their hopes and fears about the project, including its potential impacts on their lands, livelihoods, health and safety.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand based regional organization established for promoting and defending indigenous peoples' rights, has significant contributions (financial and technical) to mobilize the project affected communities to defend their rights in the ground.
“Since the220 kV Marsyangdi Corridor is being built on the traditional lands of the Indigenous Gurung people, it must secure the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local Indigenous peoples, and other affected communities, before it goes any further,” said Mr. DurgaYamphu Rai from the Kathmandu-based Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP). LAHURNIP is supporting Lamjung communities affected by the 220 kV Marsyangdi Corridor, and other hydropower sector projects, to raise their voices to the government, project authorities, and financiers.
The communities in Lamjung district have organised together as the FPIC & Rights Forum, an umbrella organization of numerous village level Struggle Committees, to demand that hydropower sector projects in their region respect their rights. The FPIC & Rights Forum filed a complaint to the Complaints Mechanism in October 2018,requestingit to provide a mediation between, on one side, the affected communities, and on the other side, the EIB’s management, the NEA, and relevant Nepali government authorities. After finding the complaint admissible, the Complaints Mechanism conducted this“initial assessment” visit in order to hear the perspectives of the various parties to determine if a mediated solution is possible.
Mr. Chandra Mishra, secretary of the FPIC & Rights Forum, said “Affected communities in Lamjung district are looking forward to engaging in a mediation process with all the relevant parties as soon as possible in order to find constructive solutions to their concerns.”
Mr. Khem Jung Gurung, the coordinator of the FPIC & Rights Forum, said: “EIBmanagement approved the loan and released funds without ensuring its environmental and social rules are being followed. Now, it must sit on the mediation table with local communities, and help find solutions to the problems its loans have contributed to.”
The Complaints Mechanism informed communities it will release an initial assessment report in May 2019, after speaking with all key parties, including the project promoter and relevant government authorities. The report will propose a way forward regarding the communities’ complaint.
Accountability Counsel, an organisation supporting the communities on the complaint process through technical and legal advice,said: “Given the urgency of the communities’ issues, we are hopeful the Complaints Mechanism will issue its initial assessment report on time, and offer a robust process to help resolve the affected communities’ concerns and remedy violations of the EIB’s environmental and social rules.”
For a Nepali copy of the FPIC & Rights Forum’s complaint, please see:
For an English copy of the FPIC & Rights Forum’s complaint, please see:
For more information about the communities’ engagement with the EIB and Complaints Mechanism, please see:Download File