By Joanna Jandali.
In a tiny fishing village along the Kutch coastline of India, families wake up to ash falling from the sky. Foul smells loom in dark clouds over the settlements, while chemicals and excess salts taint local sources of drinking water. Abscesses and boils paint the bodies of children and respiratory illnesses like asthma afflict the majority of residents.
It was not always like this in Mundra, a port city within India’s Gujarat state. Wild animals used to run free among the forests and grazing lands. The water was clean, the air was pure, and the marine life was abundant. For centuries, thousands of Wagher families, a Muslim minority in India, would migrate yearly from the inland villages to the sandy Kutch gulf to begin eight months of Pagadiya—a 200-year-old practice of catching and harvesting fish at low tide. But all this changed in 2008 when the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”)—the World Bank Group’s private lending arm— approved a $450 million loan to Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (“CGPL”) for the construction and operation of the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in the Kutch District of Gujarat. Full Article.