India: Record EIB loan - EUR 500m for Bangalore Metro

6 October 2017 | European Investment Bank (EIB) 
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide EUR 500 million to support the construction of a new 18 station Rapid Transit line in Bangalore and the purchase of 96 train cars for use on the line. This support for investment to expand the second longest urban metro system in the country is the largest ever EIB loan in India and also the largest ever support for sustainable transport outside Europe. 
The loan agreement was formally exchanged by Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President and representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of India at the 14th India – European Union summit. The formal exchange of contracts was attended by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and other senior political representatives from India and the European Union. 
The new support for investment by Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation to improve city transport is the largest ever support for sustainable transport outside Europe and will cut travel times for some journeys from 2 hours today to 15 minutes when the new line is complete. 
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is expected support the project in the first ever joint financing between the EIB and AIIB. 
“Daily travel for hundreds of thousands people on the Namma Metro will be transformed by expanding urban transport in Bangalore. The impressive Reach 6 project shows how a world city is providing 21st century sustainable transport for its citizens. The EUR 500 million financing agreed with the European Investment Bank, the Bank of the European Union, demonstrates Europe’s commitment to support world class climate related investment across Asia and the increased momentum of EIB financing for urban transport across India. This new loan follows backing for the impressive Lucknow Metro announced with Prime Minister Modi last year and stronger engagement here in India through our New Delhi office opened last March.” said Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for South Asia. The EIB is the world's largest international public bank and is owned by the 28 European Union member states. 
Speaking at the summit, the EU Ambassador to India H.E. Tomasz Kozlowski said that “The loan for the Bangalore Metro will contribute greatly to a project that will reduce traffic congestion and pollution in a city that has seen explosive growth in recent years.” 
“Successful implementation of Phase 1 of Bangalore Metro has transformed sustainable transport in the city. Working with the European Investment Bank is both helping to finance new stations and trains, and share technical experience from projects around the world.” added Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, a joint venture of the Government of India and the Government of Karnataka. 
Once operational in 2021 the new 22km Reach 6 metro line will transform transport in the southern Indian city. The project includes both underground tunnels and elevated tracks. Economic activity in the Karnataka State capital will benefit from reduced journey time and lower costs. The improved transport links are also expected to reduce green-house gas emissions. 
Reach 6 is a key part of the second phase of the Bangalore Metro and a key component of the future rail link to Bangalore Airport. More than 800 people are expected to be employed during construction. 
The loan agreement was signed by Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of India ahead of the 14th India – European Union summit. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are present at the contract signature. 
The Bangalore Metro is the first infrastructure project to be jointly financed by the European Investment Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It is the EIB’s second sovereign loan with the Republic of India. 
The European Investment Bank is one of world’s largest financiers for transport worldwide. Over the last five years it has provided more than EUR 70 billion for transport investment around the world. 
As well as providing EUR 450 million for construction of the new Lucknow Metro, In recent years the EIB has supported investment in urban transport across Asia in Hanoi, Vientiane and Bangladesh. The EIB is also backing expansion of sustainable transport across Europe, Latin America and Africa including in London, Paris, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Antananarivo and Cairo. 

A fight to save lands: How K’taka residents are resisting an oil refinery’s expansion

The News Minute 
The MRPL refinery’s plans for the fourth phase of its expansion in Mangaluru is at odds with a section of residents in Permude and Kuthethoor villages on the outskirts of the city. 
Lawrence D’Cunha quietly paces the muddy trail through his farm in Permude, a lush, idyllic village on the outskirts of Mangaluru in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. His face is inscrutable as he surveys the growth of arecanut, coconut and betel leaves around him. He also grows black pepper, bananas, and mangoes among a number of other crops in the 16-acre farm that he inherited. 
He fixates on a burst of sunlight coming through the areca leaves that illuminates one end of his farm before eventually saying, “We have been working with one goal in mind over the last two years...To save our people from being displaced by an oil refinery's expansion.” 
A part of Lawrence’s land along with surrounding areas in Permude and nearby Kuthethoor villages were notified by the Karnataka government in 2017 as lands that would be acquired by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), an oil refinery based in Mangaluru. MRPL is a subsidiary of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and it is interested in starting the fourth phase of its expansion in Mangaluru. The oil company has requested the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) to acquire 1050 acres of land for it. 
“It will be to establish units which will add value to our petro-chemical products. We may also be going for an expansion in our capacity and slightly increase the 15 million metric tonne per year. We are definitely interested to do this but the procedures related to the acquisition of land do not come under our purview. It is being handled by KIADB,” says an official of MRPL. 

‘A right to fresh air and water’ 

The refinery’s plans to expand in the region is at odds with a section of residents in Permude and Kuthethoor villages. After opposition from residents living in the area, the KIADB, in its final notification, reduced the area to be acquired to 960 acres, of which 811 acres is in Permude and Kuthethoor. 
“In the final notification, KIADB has made the shape of the land irregular by leaving out the lands owned by few of the vocal protestors like me. Only a part of my land will be acquired now but this will still cause problems since it will break up the natural flow of water in the streams around here,” says Lawrence. 
Lawrence’s complaints are echoed by William D’Souza, 56, a resident of nearby Kuthethoor, who says, “Our land has not been notified but lands surrounding our house in three sides have been notified. There is already a strong burning smell and our yield has reduced in the last few years,” he says. 
Residents and activists have protested against the state government claiming that the expansion of the oil firm will lead to more pollution. “Don’t we have a right to fresh air and water? At what cost is this development? We cannot allow this to happen to our village and to the agricultural lands here,” says Govind Das, 70, who resides in nearby Kuthethoor. 

‘A promise of jobs and money’ 

But not everyone in Permude and Kuthethoor is fighting the latest expansion of MRPL in their villages. There is a significant number of residents in favour of giving up their land for the expansion. “Our family does not have people who can work in the agricultural fields here. For instance, we need a person to spray pesticide on our arecanut trees but we are not able to find someone to do this. If we give up the land, we are promised Rs 80 lakh per acre and a job for a person in the family. Those who want to continue their agriculture can do that but we want to sell our land,” says Mark D’Souza, 58, a resident of Permude. 
MRPL is yet to confirm how many jobs will be created by the expansion and whether local residents will be preferred. The protesting residents also allege that procedure was not followed in the process of land acquisition. “In the application sent to the Karnataka Udyog Mitra, the lands to be acquired were described as dry or non-agricultural land. But the land in these villages are actually fertile agricultural lands,” alleges Hemalatha Bhat, an activist working in Mangaluru. 
When asked about this, a KIADB official explained that ‘dry’ lands were not the same as ‘non-agricultural’ lands. The official further stated that dry lands were classified as cultivable lands, and the accusation was merely technical. "There is very little non-agricultural lands and they (activists) have mistakenly believed that dry land means it is land where cultivation does not take place...Dry lands are also part of cultivable lands," a KIADB official said. 
A variety of crops are currently being grown in these lands by farmers including Lawrence, William and Govind. Even in peak summer, at a time when water scarcity has gripped Mangaluru, streams and rivulets flowing in Permude still contained water. 

‘No public consultation’ 

This is not the first time MRPL has attempted to acquire lands in Permude and Kuthethoor for expansion. A notification to acquire 2,035 acres of land in the two villages was first issued in 2007 but it was withdrawn by the then Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa of the BJP following protests in 2011. 
Many landowners remember the harrowing day when government officials arrived in Kalavaru, a nearby village, and demolished the house of Gregory Patrao, 57, who was resisting the land acquisition process. Gregory was living with six other family members in his residence. 
“I remember the day clearly - 28 April, 2010. I never agreed to give away my land but after the High Court ruled against me, officials and police came to my house and took the land away from me overnight,” recalls Gregory, sitting in the living room of his new house and looking over the pictures from the day. Gregory went on a hunger strike outside the Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner office after he was forcibly evicted from his home. 
He gained support from various organisations cutting across political and ideological leanings including the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Nagarika Seva Trust, Hindu Jagran Vedike, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). The seer of the Pejawar mutt in Udupi - Vishwesha Theertha - also joined him in the protest and Patrao became a symbol of the resistance of farmers against big development projects in the region. Many groups fighting the expansion were mobilised under the banner Karavali Karnataka Janabhivriddhi Vedike (KKJV) led by social activists Vidya Dinker and Natesh Ullal. 
Seven years later, the expansion project was revived by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2017. KKJV activists once again questioned the process of acquiring land for the expansion. The Samiti pointed out that the KIADB should use the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 for acquiring the lands. In the acquisition process under the new Act, an environment impact assessment and social impact assessment is mandatory, but both are yet to be conducted by the state government. 
"We have not taken up the Environmental Impact Assessment or the Social Impact Assessment since the land acquisition process is being carried out under the old KIADB Act, 1966. Prices for the lands have however been fixed as per the new Act," an official from KIADB confirmed. He further argues that none of the land acquisition processes in the state are being conducted under the new Act. 
In November 2017, the then Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada Jagadeesh KG called a meeting with the landowners in the two villages. In his report to the Karnataka Chief Secretary, Jagadeesh noted that among 646 of the total 937 landowners who attended the meeting, 69.75% of landowners were in favour of giving their land for the project while 30.25% landowners opposed it. The landowners who agreed to the acquisition process owned 496.86 acres or 57.41% of the land that the oil company wants to acquire. 
The protesting residents, however, alleged that many landowners opposed to the project were not present at the meeting called by the DC and that the actual number of persons opposed to the project was higher than what the then DC’s report claims. “There was no public consultation done,” they alleged.  
Following Jagadeesh’s departure, residents intensified their protests and the new DC Sasikanth Senthil wrote to the Karnataka Chief Secretary in November 2018 stating that the land acquisition was done in a “fraudulent manner”. 
In his letter, the new DC noted, “The consent of the people for the land acquisition was done in a fraudulent manner by the officers of KIADB. The land notified as non-agricultural land is actually that of agriculture in nature. The shape of the land to be acquired is irregular and irrational thereby putting a lot of people in discomfort. There was no public discussion done by the KIADB officials and opinion of various other institutions has not been considered.” 
KIADB officials however told TNM that the irregular shape is based on the request of the oil company. "We undertake the acquisition of lands based on the survey numbers given by MRPL. They have requested the land in a certain way. If there are a lot of houses or if there is a temple, we cannot acquire those lands," stated a KIADB official. There has been no public consultation on the irregular shape of the lands marked for acquiring. 
The expansion, particularly the process of acquiring the lands for it, has been contested in court by a number of petitions filed by landowners living in the area. In May 2018, the Karnataka High Court while hearing one such petition filed by Bhoja Shettigar passed an interim stay order halting the land acquisition process. A month later, the High Court allowed the KIADB to fix the price for the land. The last hearing in the case was held on April 8 this year and the stay order imposed by the court is still in place. 
The stay order came as a relief to the protesting residents and the opposition for the project was strengthened. In December 2018, members of the Karavali Karnataka Janabhivruddhi Vedike, another organisation opposed to the project with many overlapping members from the Krishi Bhoomo Samrakshana Samiti, held up a banner reading ‘Karavali Utsava Alla, Karavali Ulisi’ (Not Karavali Festival, Save Karavali) across the stage during the inauguration of Karavali Utsava. District-in-charge Minister UT Khader and Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil were in attendance on stage during the carefully planned surprise protest. The activists also pointed out that political leaders cutting across parties were apathetic to the complaints made by protestors. 
MRPL officials, however, are unmoved in the face of the opposition to the expansion project. “There are always going to be certain aggrieved people raising objections when industries try to set up. You could say this is part of the development or growth story of the country. In the third phase of expansion, everyone was provided compensation, alternate land for building houses, and jobs. Even trees which were cut down were identified and compensated separately,” says an official from MRPL. 
The deadlock between the protesting residents and the government, which began all the way back in 2007, continues to cloud over the lives of people living in Permude and Kuthethoor. But the residents of the village remain steadfast in their fight and hope that at the end of it, they are able to save their villages from being displaced by the oil company. “There used to be a saying earlier - industrialise or perish. But what we are seeing here is industrialise and perish. We will not allow it to happen,” Govind Das adds.  

Silent Sit-In Protest by Farmers against Land Acquisition for MRPL

10 Nov 2018 | The Mangalorean
Members of Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti (KBSS) supported by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) sat in a silent protest in the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office at State Bank, Mangaluru on November 9:00 at 10:00 am for the withdrawal of the land acquisition for Mangalore Refinery’s fourth phase. 
The commencement of this protest was by being seated in the corridors of the DC office without uttering a word. Hundreds of them including the farmers of Kuthethoor and Permude with social activist Vidya Dinker took part in this campaign. The protest did not disrupt work in the DC office or pose any kind of obstruction. 
“This protest was for seven hours, where all of us were unified and gave our best to make this protest a success,” said William D’Souza, the KBSS vice president. Riya Tomy, an MSW student from St Aloysius College said, “The people who were concerned about the farmers cause provided support by delivering food in the DC office.” The farmers’ sit-in protest was a success as Sasikanth Senthil S., IAS, Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district finally relented and sent a letter to the Government of Karnataka. 
“The protest in DC office today was successful. If our demand would not have been fulfilled then we had the plan of staying until our expectations were met. The DC sent our letter with his observations and suggestions to the Government of Karnataka so we concluded our protest for today.” Said Mr Lawrence D’Cunha, the Secretary of KBSS and he further added that this fight would not be stopped until they get their justice. 
“We farmers have been struggling since 2008 and have won in 2011, but the same situation is aroused again in 2015 with this fourth phase for the expansion of the same MRPL industry, yet we farmers have never lost hopes nor our strength to protect the land,” said John Pinto, a farmer from Permude.

We want Land Wapsi to Farmers – Vidya Dinker

20 Apr 2016 | Savney Monteiro, The Mangalorean 
“We want a white paper from KIABD on how much land was acquired, how much land was given to industries and of this how much land is actually being utilized by them. It is clear that the industries are using the state to acquire land. The unused land should be given back to the owners as land wapsi,” said Vidya Dinker in a press meet held at Hotel Woodlands here on April 20. 
Vidya Dinker said, “Even MRPL was allotted a huge mass of land for a planned 3 million metric ton refinery. It was so huge that they ended up building a 12 million metric ton refinery even after selling 400 acres of land to BASF.”“A real estate business is being run by the government,” alleged while addressing the mediapersons at a press meet held at hotel Woodlands here, on April 20. 
Lolaksha alleged, “A real estate business is being run by the government. In the name of development, the government has acquired land from the farmers. 641.915 acres of land was allotted to Suzlon Infrastructure Ltd in Udupi and within two years, Suzlon sold the land to Synefra Engineering & Construction Ltd. This land was later sold to Aspen Infrastructure Ltd in 2012. On 9 February 2016, Aspen Infrastructure limited has published an advertisement in the Mumbai edition of Economic Times to sell 147.384 acres of land .”  
He further said, “According to Karnataka Industrial Policy 2014-19, parties cannot sell the land but can give it on lease basis only. But the land was sold to Suzlon on 27 September 2007 for Rs 31,46,27,500 and later Suzlon sold it to Synefra for Rs 39,03,80,623 on 29 February 2012. As this is not legal we had lodged a complaint with the Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Industries and Commerce, who had promised to look in this matter on 3 March 2016. So far there has been no official communication in this regard.” 
He also said, “According to Udupi DC proceedings, 508.69 acres of land allotted to NPTCL was withdrawn by the government as they had not utilized the land. But the above mentioned private companies have not utilized even 100 acres of the 641 acres land allotted to them. Why isn’t this land being withdrawn?” 
Lolaksha said, “Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act 1966 is a draconian act which lets the government take land for industrial use easily. Even the 1894 land act is better and people friendly. The 2013 act introduced by the UPA government is lenient, but Karnataka government was the first to oppose it.” 
“If we want to sell our land, we will do it on our own and there is no need for the government to do it for us,” he added.

Group to oppose fixing of price for land being acquired for MRPL

3 Nov 2018 | Mangalore Today 

Citing alleged damage to environment and violation of rules, a group of farmers, environment activists and fishermen, including members of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshna Samiti, will oppose on November 5 the meeting called by Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Sentil to fix price for land acquired for the fourth phase of expansion of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL). 

The group under the aegis of Karavali Karnataka Janabhirudhi Vedike will carry out the protest near the office of the Deputy Commissioner on Monday. Vedike convener T.R. Bhat alleged that the process of the fixing rates was against norms laid down under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013. Mr. Bhat said that further expansion of MRPL would pose serious harm to already polluted environment. 

Lawrence D’Cunha, member of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshna Samiti, said that he will attend the meeting on November 5 and place their objection. Vedike member Vidya Dinker said that the protest was to raise the larger issue of damage to environment likely to be caused because of the expansion. The protest, she said, cannot be perceived as one against High Court of Karnataka order permitting the Deputy Commissioner to go ahead with fixing price. 

Meanwhile, members of Samyukta Nagarika Hitarakshana Samiti comprising owners of land to be acquired, told The Hindu that they will attend the November 5 meeting and demand payment of compensation as per the 2013 Act. “We have said this in the meeting held recently in the Town Hall. We will reiterate it,” said Ronald Fernandes, president of the samiti.