Singrauli | Feb 9, 2016
US Ex- Im Bank confirms serious labour rights violations at Reliance’s Sasan Power Project
Export Import Bank of the United States, a financer of Reliance’s Sasan Power Project in Madhya Pradesh, confirmed serious labour rights violations at the project, including 19 deaths.
In the report “Report on Project Financing of Sasan Power Limited” dated September 2015,the Office of Inspector General of the US ExIm bank, it has been confirmed that Ex-Im Bank’s Chairman expressed his continued disappointment to the CEO of Reliance regarding the “poor safety” practices at the Project. In particular, the Chairman’s letter stated, “the number of all fatalities at the integrated Project is now 19—which is both tragic and absolutely unacceptable.” Despite that, nothing changed on the ground.
Most of these cases were not investigated, nor action taken against the Reliance for this serious lapses. Ex-Im Bank, despite expressing concerns about these cases, failed to take any action to ensure that such cases do not recur.
SrijanLokhitSamiti (SLS) has been raising issues of ‘accident deaths’ at the project site the past few years. This is the first time this is recognised by a body like that of Ex-Im Bank. “19 deaths are very serious. What is equally shocking is that despite these cases, no action is taken against the company. The impunity the company continues to enjoy is very disturbing’, Awadhesh Kumar, senior activist of SrijanLokhitSamiti said.
The report further says that, “The letter emphasized the Bank’s commitment to ‘the highest standards for health and safety compliance in projects financed by Ex-Im Bank’ and that ‘the alarming number of injuries and fatalities must come to an end.’ The Chairman’s letter noted that ‘rather than improving, the situation appears to be deteriorating.’ “ The Bank required Reliance to submit “detailed action plans to improve the health and safety record at the Project sites by February 15, 2015.”
The report confirms that the incidents of fatalities have been brought to the notice of the Ex-ImBank by third parties since 2012 and the only action that the was recommended from the Banks side was to ‘develop a safety oriented culture’. However, no substantial actions were taken by the Ex-Im Bank to out a check to these cases. Timely actions could have saved many lives.
“The number of deaths could be many times more than 19. Most of the labourers are contract labourers and what happens to them is not documented properly. Apart from deaths, there are umpteen number of cases where labourers are seriously injured, some even impaired for life. They are not counted here and their issues are not addressed,” xxxx, (also say who s/he is) said.
In a complaint sent to US Ex-Im Bank in July 2014 submitted by SrijanLokhitSamitialong with other civil society organisations, it was categorically mentioned that there have been a number of serious accidents cases at the project site and the numbers may run into hundreds. Locals have also complained of all such accidents not being reported especially in cases where migrant labour is involved.
We atSrijianLokhitSamiti demand that the Government of Madhya Pradesh should take a serious note of these accident cases and commission an enquiry into these fatal accidents. Until the enquiry is complete and appropriate safety measures are taken, the project should be shut down.
We also demand US Ex-Im Bank to take liability for financing the project, which has become a death trap for labourers working at the project site. The Bank should make no further disbursement for the project, until it ensures proper safety standards for it.
Full report “Report on Project Financing of Sasan Power Limited”: http://www.exim.gov/sites/default/files/oig/reports/Final%20Sasan%20Report%20-%20Redacted.pdf
Response of SLS to the report: https://lokhitsamiti.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/response-to-oig-sasan-report-december-2015.pdf