ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS RISK ASSESSMENT
The following analysis is based on a Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment study that was commissioned by OCL in order to assess the likely impacts that would result from the proposed project. The two-part assessment was conducted by Envirotec East (P), Ltd., Kolkata and can be accessed on the IFC's website.
IFC states that OCL plans to employ 175 persons permanently, of which about 130 will be workers. The IFC's Environmental and Social Review for the project further states that OCL has Human Resource Policies and Practices that are generally consistent with IFC Performance Standards but does not provide details. Importantly, this documents notes that these policies apply to employees only and states The Company will develop, for this plant, additional policies compliant with PS 2 provisions particularly related to contract workers.
The environmental impact assessment states that [r]isks to human health in the first place arise from major accidents. As such, IFC pledges that [p]lant safety measures would form an integral part of the environment protection plan of the proposed plant. Worker's safety would be of the highest degree of concern so as to avoid any personal injury or untoward accident. In-built safety features of the plant and machinery would be made adequate in order to avoid hazardous events causing damage to life and property.
Additionally, IFC states that, there are also potential risks related to labor influx into the project site during construction, which may put pressure on local resources such as water, health and sanitation facilities and fuel wood availability. During construction, up to 500 workers are expected to be located at the construction site. In mitigation, IFC maintains that OCL will thus develop a Labor Influx Management plan to manage associated impacts including measures to minimize the risk of community exposure to disease due to influx of laborers. IFC states the OCL will ensure that appropriate amenities/facilities for contract labor and employees are provided during both the construction and operational phases. This will include the requirement for: appropriate facilities and amenities including housing, toilets, washing and cleaning water of appropriate quality, potable drinking water and cooking fuel; treated sanitary waste water to meet the World Bank Group's environmental healthy safety guidelines prior to discharge; and assess potential host community impacts on account of an influx of labor, and implement mitigation measures.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's labor rights have been adversely affected by the investment project:
- Can all members of your community apply for jobs in the context of the investment project
- Are your wages sufficient to meet your basic needs and those of your family?
- Have you been forced to work against your will or without adequate compensation?
- Are your working conditions safe and healthy?
- Are there children under the age of 15 working on any aspect of this development project?
- What opportunities (legal or other) are available if you consider that your working conditions are not just and favorable?
- Has OCL provided adequate housing, toilets, water and cooking fuel for workers in the project during its construction?
- What opportunities (legal or otherwise) are available if workers brought in the project site during construction put pressure on local resources such as water, health and sanitation facilities and fuel wood availability?
RIGHT TO WATER
According to the 2012 Human Rights in India Status Report, the combined effects of inadequate sanitation, unsafe water supply and poor personal hygiene are responsible for 88% of childhood deaths from diarrhea. Additionally, 21% of the communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water. Further, more than 20% of Scheduled Caste persons do not have access to safe drinking water and the vast majority of them depend on the goodwill of dominant castes for access to water from public wells.
The environmental impact assessment states that the plant will need fresh water to the tune of 900 cum/day for meeting its daily water demand. In addition, treated wastewater to the tune of 175 cum/day will also be use[d] for non-critical purposes. As such, the assessment states that ground water will be used for meeting the daily water demand of the plant. The neighborhood of the site does not have any dependable surface water source and ground water is the primary source of water in the area. Ground water will be drawn only on getting consent from the concerned body [State Water Investigation Directorate). The EIA notes that the Directorate usually issues their Consent considering all relevant aspects. Based on this, it concludes: Thus no impact on ground water hydrology is expected.
If the plant's activities result in diminished quantity or quality of groundwater for local residents, it may result in a violation of their right to water. The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to water has been adversely affected by the investment project:
- Has your access to good, affordable, clean and safe water in sufficient quantity been affected since the beginning of the investment project?
- Has your access to appropriate sanitation facilities been adversely affected by the project
- Does the company have a policy or program to ensure that its activities do not affect people's right to water?
- What opportunities (legal or other) are available if you feel that your right to water has been affected?
RIGHT TO FOOD
According to the environmental impact assessment, the project area covers 252 villages in Medinipur West District. About 49.87% of the study area consists of agricultural land. The social impact assessment further indicates that the land take has resulted in 178 of the 188 surveyed households becoming landless. The key livelihood impact due to the land acquisition relates to agriculture and share cropping. This is alarming considering that India faces a situation of on-going food insecurity, where 21% of India's total population remains undernourished, with women, girls and older persons being the most affected [as] 42% of children under five are underweight and 59% are stunted, as stated in the 2012 Human Rights Status Report in India.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to food has been adversely affected by the investment project:
- Has your ability to subsist on your own land been affected since the beginning of the investment project?
- Has your access to good and affordable food in sufficient quantity been affected since the beginning of the investment project?
- What opportunities (legal or other) are available if feel that your right to food has been affected?
RIGHT TO HEALTH
According to the 2012 Human Rights in India Status Report, India spends only 4.4% of its budget on health, which is far below the global median of 11.5%. As a consequence, India's health-care infrastructure is sub-standard and inadequate, lacking doctors and hospital beds. There are six doctors and nine hospital beds per 10,000 people. Only 15% of the population has health insurance, making quality healthcare in private hospitals inaccessible for a vast majority of the population.
[According to the environmental impact assessment, the project study area is high density populated with the total population of 129,986 (as of the 2001 census). Due to the high population density, health services in the area may be overburdened. According to a recent journal article in the Journal of Law, Policy, and Globalization, a recent study comparing levels of access to health services across 16 states of the country places West Bengal in the lowest category alongside Rajasthan, Orissa, Bihar and Assam. This is likely because [r]ural health services which form the backbone of public health system, is lacking in basic infrastructure, staff and essential medicines.
According to recent reports, the [b]looming of cement factories has resulted in the environmental deterioration and in turn degrades the human health status in whole world. Studies have shown adverse respiratory health effects in the people exposed to cement dust, exemplified in increased frequency of respiratory problems. Cement industry is one of the 17 most polluting industries listed by the central pollution control board. It is the major source of particulate matter, SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions. Cement dust contains heavy metals like chromium, nickel, cobalt, lead and mercury pollutants hazardous to the biotic environment with impact for vegetation, human health, animal health and ecosystem. The environmental impact assessment states that during operation the plant operation will emit gaseous pollutants through stack, which have the potential to deteriorate the air quality of the area. Stack emissions would be constituted of mainly Particulate matters, SO2, & NOX.
Additionally, the plant will be primarily fueled by coal. According to Urban Emissions, Coal-fired power comes with significant costs. Most importantly for human health, combustion of coal releases emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and various trace metals like mercury, into the air through stacks that can disperse this pollution over large areas. Chronic and acute exposure to these pollutants has health impacts that include respirator illnesses, compromised immune systems, cardiovascular conditions, and premature death.
With respect to nitrogen oxides, [s]mall levels of NOx can cause nausea, irritated eyes and/or nose, fluid forming in lungs and shortness of breath. Breathing in high levels of NOx can lead to: rapid, burning spasms; swelling of throat; reduced oxygen intake; a larger buildup of fluids in lungs and/or death. NOx, plus other [ground]-level ozone, can cause other major respiratory problems in high levels. It can also react with aerosols from aerosols cans and also cause respiratory problems. Furthermore, NOx can cause visual impairment in the area affects by NOx. Additionally, [a] great deal of attention has focused on particulate matter (PM) pollution, due to their severe health effects, especially fine particles. Several epidemiological studies have indicated a strong association between elevated concentrations of inhalable particles (PM10 and PM2.5) and increased mortality and morbidity.
Additionally, IFC states that the project is located in an earthquake zone with risk of high intensity earthquakes and prone to floods and cyclones but maintains that OCL has designed the project taking into account measures to ensure that the risks from these natural events are not exacerbated for communities resident in the immediate vicinity of the plant. In addition to appropriate design of plant and facilities, OCL must review the District Disaster Management Plan and prepare an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for both on and off site emergencies. IFC further provides that the emergency preparedness plan will be communicated to communities and stakeholders alike and drills will be undertaken on emergency response that will involve nearby communities that will include OCL participation as required.
Lastly, IFC states that during construction and operation of the project, OCL will employ security guards to guard the facility. Although IFC states that OCL will implement formal procedures related to screening of candidates' past records, security personnel objectives and permissible actions, training in avoidance of abusive conduct, the use of fire arms and managing of situations where fire arms may be used, recording and investigating security incidents; investigations of bona fide complaints against security personnel and disciplinary actions, there remains a risk for potential violence against employees or members of local communities. IFC states that a grievance mechanism will be defined for aggrieved members of community or employees in the event of a violation of the code for security personnel.
Any of the aforementioned adverse health effects may place additional stress on an already vulnerable healthcare situation. The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to health has been adversely affected by the project:
- Has your health been affected since the beginning of the project?
- Have you experienced an increase in either respiratory or water based-illness?
- Has your access to good, affordable and acceptable health services been affected since the beginning of the project?
- Have you as an employee or community member experienced or been threatened by any violence at the hands of project security guards?
- What opportunities (legal or other) are available if you feel that your right to health has been affected?
RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
According to the Government of India, cement manufacturing is an energy intensive process. Consuming energy from fossil fuels such as oil and coal creates carbon dioxide, the most important Greenhouse Gas causing climate change. In industrial sector, cement industry is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide and accounts for 5 per cent of global manmade carbon dioxide emissions, of which 60 per cent is from the chemical process and 40 per cent from burning fuel.
With respect to the current investment project, the environmental impact assessment reports that pollutants in the form of solids, liquids, and gases are expected to be generated from various Units as envisaged under the Cement Grinding Plant. Release of such pollutants without proper care may affect the environment adversely. Pollution of the environment not only adversely affects human beings, flora, and fauna, but also shortens the life of plant and equipment.
According to recent studies in India, the [c]ement industry is one of the most important industries involved in air pollution. The aerial discharge of cement factories consist of Particulate matter, Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen oxides producing continuous visible clouds which ultimately settle on the vegetation, soil and effects whole biotic life around, as a result the whole ecosystem around the cement factory is subjected to extraordinary stress and abuse. Further, [c]ement dust contains heavy metals like chromium, nickel, cobalt, lead and mercury pollutants hazardous to the biotic environment with impact for vegetation, human health, animal health and ecosystem.
The Project environmental impact assessment recognizes that the [c]ement industry is known for its contribution to air pollution. The pollutants, mainly particle matter, would be emitted either from the stack or from storage. Sources of air pollution can be mainly divided into two groups: process and non-process. Process emissions would be those which would be emitted during production/operation of the plant, while non-process emissions would be due to different material handling facilities. The main air pollutant from the process and non-process emissions would be SPM.
During the construction phase, the environmental impact assessment asserts that [t]he main sources of emissions are the movement of equipment at the site and dust emitted during earthwork, foundation work, and exhaust emissions from vehicles/ equipment deployed during construction phase thus resulting in marginal increase in the levels of SO2, NOX, SPM, CO and unburnt hydrocarbons. Further, the environmental impact assessment states that, during operation the plant operation will emit gaseous pollutants through stack, which have the potential to deteriorate the air quality of the area. Stack emissions would be constituted of mainly Particulate matters, SO2, & NOX.
The environmental impact assessment states that [i]mpact on water quality during construction phase may be due to non-point discharges of solid from soil loss and sewage generated from the construction workforce stationed at the site. However, the assessment maintains that during operation, no wastewater is expected from the process. Domestic wastewater along with wastewater from non-processing areas of the plant will be treated in a well-designed wastewater treatment plant and such wastewater will be used in non-critical purposes within plant premises. Furthermore, the assessment states that solid waste generated from pollution control systems will be recycled into the process. There is no discharge of liquid effluents onto the land.
The environmental impact assessment indicates that coal will be used as the major fuel in the plant. According to Urban Emissions, Coal-fired power comes with significant costs to the environment and human health. The water runoff from coal washeries carries pollution loads of heavy metals that contaminate ground water, rivers and lakes thus affecting aquatic flora and fauna. Fly-ash residue and pollutants settle on soil contaminating areas and are especially harmful to agricultural activities.
Transportation of Hazardous Materials
In the cement manufacturing process, clinker, gypsum, slag coal, and furnace oil are required to grind cement. According to a recent report by the EU's Country Programme EIDHR, [b]y the very nature of the cement industry, it requires transportation of ore to the factory and final product from the factory to its depots and sales network. Large numbers of trucks not only damages the roads, but also increases dust emissions. Indeed, the environmental impact assessment states that fly ash will be transported to the plant from source through bulk carriers and pumped into the silo. The requisite coal will be sourced from the Raniganj area of West Bengal, which is located within 150 km distance and will be transported to the plant site by road. Further, if cement markets are far away from the plant (more than 150 to 200 km), then transportation through rail network would become an economically viable option for the plant.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community has suffered a violation of your right to a healthy environment as a result of the investment project:
- Has the government provided information to you regarding the disposal of solid waste, hazardous waste, and other waste products, and what impact is this likely to have on the local environment?
- Has the government informed you of an environmental action plan in place for reducing harmful ecological effects on local communities?
- What options do you have (legal or otherwise) if the environmental impacts of the proposed operations become a problem for local communities and/or the local ecosystem?
RIGHT TO PROPERTY
Development projects can result in both physical and economic displacement of local communities. According to the 2012 Human Rights Status Report for India, experts estimate the number of those displaced by such projects since 1947 is between 60 and 65 million. Of these displaced, over 40% are tribals and another 40% consist of Dalits and other rural poor. The National Human Rights Commission's (NHRC) stakeholders' report for India's second Universal Periodic Review in 2012 stated that NHRC's monitoring finds that usually those displaced [as a result of development projects] are given neither adequate relief nor the means of rehabilitation.
For the current investment project, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation acquired 154.43 acres (approximately 62 hectares) of land under eminent domain on account of the project and leased it to OCL. IFC holds that although no physical displacement has resulted on account of the land acquisition, 321 titleholders from 4 Mouzas/villages (Durgadaspur, Rana, Kulapachuria and Jamdargar) have been economically displaced. The land acquisition has also caused loss of livelihood for 14 sharecropper households. According to IFC documentation, the acquired land was largely barren with some parcels of rain fed cultivated land. All affected households supplemented their income with either agricultural wage labor or wage labor in the neighboring towns (e.g., Medinipur/ Kharagpur/ Jhargram, etc.). The land acquired is 8.7% of the total village land of these four villages and 6.26%, 2.81%, 24.93% and 11.40% of the available land of Durgadaspur, Rana, Kulapachuria and Jamdargar Mouzas/villages respectively.
According to the environmental impact assessment, the project area covers 252 villages in Medinipur West District. About 49.87% of the study area consists of agricultural land. The social impact assessment further indicates that the land take has resulted in 178 of the 188 surveyed households becoming landless. The key livelihood impact due to the land acquisition relates to agriculture and share cropping. IFC states that compensation for land at replacement cost has been paid to all titleholders. There are two households however, which have not been paid their compensation for lack of the necessary documents, even though the land is already in the company's possession. IFC states that OCL is assisting those households in updating their documents. Furthermore, IFC states that 14 sharecropper households have received only crop compensation and have not been compensated for loss of livelihood. IFC maintains that the Company is committed to compensating these sharecroppers in a manner consistent with the provision of IFC performance standard 5.
In mitigation, IFC states that OCL has prepared a livelihood restoration entitlement matrix which includes provision for; a) providing jobs, where feasible; b) skill development and income generation training to all available and willing adults (women and men); c) income generation activity support especially to tribal families; and d) special provisions for all vulnerable groups including Indigenous peoples. The livelihood restoration measures are will be finalized in consultation with the affected households.
While the entitlement framework will be implemented for the 188 households that were initially surveyed, IFC states that it will also be extended to the remaining affected households from the total 321 households, contingent on their ability to demonstrate their credentials. Further, IFC pledges that OCL will implement measures for ongoing monitoring and undertake a completion audit of the resettlement activities, which will identify any remaining gaps and corresponding corrective actions if applicable.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to property and adequate housing has been adversely affected by the investment project:
- Have you and your community had an opportunity to input on resettlement plans and provide suggestions about alternatives to relocation to the government?
- Has the land and/or housing provided following relocation been adequate and of an equal or better quality than the land and/or housing previously occupied?
- If you were resettled, do you feel that you received adequate compensation for your land, housing, or crops?
- What options do you have (legal or otherwise) at your disposal in the event that you feel that your right to property or adequate housing has been compromised?
RIGHT TO CULTURE
IFC states that, in addition to the economic displacement of affected titleholders, the villagers stated loss of one temple and increase in distance to forests. IFC states that OCL will replace the temple to a location to be identified in consultation with the community. Although IFC states that there was no mention made of any place of heritage, sacred grove or shrine, etc., being lost, this fails to address the fact that loss of a temple may not be adequately remedied by a replacement. The IFC further states that a cremation ground was within the land acquired by OCL, but maintains that it has been specifically kept outside the boundary wall of the plant to facilitate community's ability to continue accessing the site..
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to culture has been adversely affected by the project:
- Were you informed and asked to provide input prior to the destruction of any valuable cultural heritage sites or relics for construction of any components of the project?
- Has your access to cultural institutions been affected since the beginning of the project?
- Has your ability to maintain and use your traditional customs been affected since the beginning of the iproject?
- What opportunities (legal or other) are available if you feel that your right to take part in cultural life has been restricted or denied?
- Has your community been discriminated against on the basis of the Santhal tribal culture?
RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
In India, it is reported that almost 40% of displaced persons in the country are from the tribal communities. Many of these tribes have been displaced from the forests without any proper compensation and legal procedure, and the replacement infrastructure, land, and facilities for farming that are available and accessible to the tribal communities are not insufficient. Furthermore, most of these communities' livelihoods and cultures are inextricably linked to the land, rendering them disproportionately vulnerable to negative social effects of displacement.
IFC states that of the total 321 affected titleholders, 113 belong to the Santhal Scheduled Tribe. Of the 188 households surveyed, 86 households, or 46% belonged to the Santhal Scheduled Tribe. All affected sharecropper families also belong to the Santhal Scheduled tribe. All affected tribal households speak Ol Chiki'- the Santhal language and, according to IFC documentation, also speak in Bengali. IFC documents states that several households have distinct cultural practices and some tribal households continue to maintain a collective attachment to their locality and prefer not to live in mixed communities. Further, the SA [social impact assessment] indicates that the tribal families were distinctly economically worse off than the non-tribal families. However, the scheduled tribe households have also adopted the cultural practices and rituals of the majority community with whom they reside. In light of the distinct identity and socio-cultural practices, the affected scheduled tribe households have been considered indigenous people in accordance with IFC's Performance Standards.
Despite this recognition of the status as indigenous people, the IFC maintains that their ownership of land is not governed by traditional or customary tenure and notes that all affected tribal households had individual land titles. IFC documentation states: No tribal families were physically displaced on account of land acquisition. Further, though there is dependence of communities on nearby forests, only scattered sections of forests totaling some 4 [hectares] has been acquired. As per the [social impact assessment] survey findings, there is no material loss of access to forest resources on account of the Project because the forest is degraded. While some project-affected families (both tribal and non-tribal) have shifted out of the area, there has been no displacement of tribal households from lands and natural resources subject to traditional ownership or under customary use on account of land acquisition for the Project. Furthermore, there have been no significant impacts on critical cultural heritage. No place of heritage, sacred grove or shrine is being impacted by the Project.
IFC also maintains that the nature of the projects impacts on the indigenous peoples is broadly similar to impacts on other affected groups. However, it notes, the affected IP households have been recognized as vulnerable and additional measures are provided in the entitlement matrix for loss of livelihood, as in case of non Indigenous Affected Households. Importantly, IFC documentation state that a separate Indigenous People's Development Plan will not be prepared, as the indigenous peoples affected will be considered as one of several potentially vulnerable groups addressed in the Social Impact Assessment, Community Development Plan, Stakeholder Engagement Plan and Resettlement Plan and Entitlements.
Recognizing that the economic condition of the scheduled tribe households is distinctly worse than other caste and community groups, the IFC states that OCL's "Entitlement Framework" includes specific provisions for tribal families for their economic rehabilitation. In addition to the Entitlement Framework, the IFC states that OCL has developed a Community Development Plan with interventions targeted specifically at tribal families, which includes activities for the development of drinking water, health and sanitation programs, capacity building programs, programs focused on women and indigenous peoples' households, and a strategy for ensuring their participation. According to the IFC, the Community Development Plan has been prepared in consultation with the tribal families.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's rights have been adversely affected by the project:
- Have you been discriminated against as members of the Santhal Scheduled Tribe?
- Has the project interfered with your ability to maintain your political, economic and social structures in accordance with your cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies
- Have you been able to participate in decision making regarding the development and sustainable management of your environment?
- If you were relocated, was this after you had given your free, prior, and informed consent to be resettled?
- Were you given adequate compensation as part of the resettlement action plan for the project?
- If your rights were violated, do you have clear information on ways (legal and otherwise) of seeking justice, remedy, or compensation?
RIGHTS OF MARGINALIZED AND DISCRIMINATED AGAINST GROUPS
IFC states that, of the 188 households surveyed as part of the social impact assessment, 40 (21%) are headed by women. In addition, 34 vulnerable households have been affected which include abandoned/single women, below poverty line titleholders and women headed households with no support.
The following questions may be relevant to determining whether you or your community's right to a healthy environment has been adversely affected by the investment project:
- Are you at a disadvantage or have you been disproportionately affected by the project due to your sex, race, religion, or socioeconomic class?
- Have you received appropriate information and were you allowed the opportunity to provide input regarding your special needs in the planning or operational stages of the project?
- What options (legal or otherwise) do you have if you feel that you have been discriminated against or marginalized in the project decision-making process?