Letter to CDM Executive Board re. Proposed Review of Jorethang Loop Hydro

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

RE: A review of proposed CDM project—Jorethang Loop—should include whether it met the stakeholder consultation requirements

Dear CDM Executive Board members,

Jorethang Loop is a 96 MW hydro project in India which the Executive Board will consider reviewing in its 37th meeting.

It is our hope that the project review will not only assess the additionality claims, but also whether the developers met the stakeholder consultation requirements.

In September 2006, NESPON, an NGO in West Bengal in India, visited villages directly affected by the Jorethang Loop hydropower project. This was after the public hearing that took place on April 9, 2006. NESPON found that many people from these villages had not been aware of the public hearing and were not aware of basic aspects of the project that would affect them. In a number of villages NESPON visited, including Manjhitar village where the pumping station would be constructed, and several villages through which the headrace tunnel would pass, NESPON found that noone was aware of the public hearing. A stakeholder comment from another Indian NGO, SANDRP, mentions that they never received a response to their request for a copy of the environmental impact assessment and other project documents from the project developer, documents which the PDD states were publicly available.

The guidelines for the stakeholder consultation requirements are minimal . But they do provide a few basic principles. The guidance is: “An invitation for comments by local stakeholders shall be made in an open and transparent manner, in a way that facilities comments to be received from local stakeholders and allows for a reasonable time for comments to be submitted. In this regard, project participants shall describe a project activity in a manner which allows the local stakeholders to understand the project activity...”

“Facilitating comments” requires as a minimum that that all people directly affected by a CDM project should be informed of the project and of opportunities to provide comments on the project. While the developers claim that they put ads in local newspapers and posters up in the affected villages, the lack of awareness of the people living in the villages NESPON visited implies that the measures taken were not effective. Also, enabling “local stakeholders to understand the project activity” implies that requests for publicly available information to the project developers must be properly responded to.

DNV, in its validation report, responded only partially to the stakeholder comments from NESPON and other Indian NGOs. Their responses consisted almost exclusively of copied statements made by DANS Energy Private Limited. Though these statements were often contradictory to what NESPON found, it appears as if DNV simply took DANS Energy’s comments at face value, failing to verify the validity of the statements, and the validity of NESPON’s concerns that the stakeholder consultations were inadequate.

We hope that the Executive Board might take this opportunity to assert the seriousness of the public consultation requirements. They must be validated by the DOEs based on basic common sense regarding the fulfillment the principles specified. Also, validators must take public comments regarding the public consultations seriously and examine the concerns raised.

Most sincerely,

Barbara Haya
Consultant, International Rivers

More information: 

SANDRP Comments on Jorethang Loop Hydro CDM application