Gujarat Fisherfolk Appeal in US Supreme Court against Mundra Power Plant

Reported by

Aditi Patil

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018

Updated on

May 21, 2018

Location of Conflict

Mundra

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Thermal Power Plant

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

4338

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1242

ha

Starting Year

2011

State

Gujarat

Sector

Power

Coastal Gujarat Power Limited has been operating a 4,150-megawatt "ultra mega" imported coal and supercritical technology-based power plant in the port city of Mundra. In June 2011, potentially affected fishing communities filed a complaint with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO). The complaint raised issues on the project's social and environmental impact on fishing communities, decline of water quality and fish population, blocked access to fishing and drying sites, forced displacement of fisherfolk, community health impacts due to air emissions and devastation of natural habitats, particularly mangroves.
The total project cost was estimated at USD $4.14 billion, of which the International Finance Corporation (IFC) had financed USD $450 million in the form of a straight senior loan. The CAO concluded that the IFC had failed to ensure the project met the applicable environmental and social standards necessary for IFC projects. The IFC rejected the CAO's finding.
In 2016, the applicants - Indian farmers, fisherfolk and a trade union of fish workers - sued the IFC in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. They lost the case as the court had argued that the IFC enjoys immunity.
In 2018, the petitioners knocked the doors of the US Supreme Court after lower courts dismissed their petitions arguing that the IFC enjoys immunity, like other foreign countries, under the 1945 International Organizations Immunity Act. In their petition, the villagers argued that the Tata Mundra Power Plant has failed to comply with international environmental standards. The local environment has been devastated, according to the plaintiffs, with marine life killed by water discharges from the plant's cooling system and coal dust contaminating the air.
In February 2019, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of the fisherfolk, reversing the district court's judgement. It ruled that the IFC enjoys only “restrictive immunity” in activities abroad and remanded the matter back to the lower court for adjudication on damages.
However, in August 2020, a US federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending. "The court ruled that a lawsuit against the IFC, for harms caused by IFC’s lending, is not based upon IFC’s lending. That is not right. The same law applies to foreign governments and their corporations, so this would mean that a Chinese state-owned bank that profits from causing harm to Americans in the United States cannot be sued here either,” said Richard Herz, Senior Litigation Attorney at EarthRights.
The local fisherfolk are determined to appeal again. Bharat Patel, head of the local fisherfolk’s organisation, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, said, "We will keep up our fight to hold the IFC accountable while demanding reparation for the damages caused to our community due to the IFC’s reckless lending.” 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban and Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

3333

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2007

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

International Organizations Immunities Act, 1945 (United States of America)
Section 288 [Immunities enjoyed by international organisations]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of standard international laws

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court of the United States of America, US District Court for the District of Columbia

Case Number

17-1011, Civil Action No. 15-612

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The International Financial Corporation (IFC) loaned USD $450 million to Coastal Gujarat Power Limited, which financed the construction and setup of the coal-fired power plant in Gujarat. In 2019, the US Supreme Court held that the position of international organisations is equivalent to foreign sovereign immunity. Hence, the IFC was not immune from the suit by the petitioners, and the matter was remanded for further proceedings to a lower court. In 2020, the US District Court for Columbia held that the suit by the petitioners was not based on conduct carried out in the United States and that the IFC is immune from the suit.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Development of a network or collective

Involvement of national and international NGOs

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat government

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Power Finance Corporation Limited, Tata Power Company Limited, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

World Bank, International Finance Corporation

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Wagher community

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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