David seems to have trumped Goliath again. Gujarat’s farmers and fishermen, who have been fighting for years against the foreign funding of a polluting coal plant, got a temporary breather from the US Supreme Court last week. The top court rejected a lower court ruling that allowed international organisations based in the US, such as the World Bank arm – International Finance Corporation (IFC) – to be immune to litigation by American courts, thereby reviving the protestors’ case against the IFC over its funding of the Tata Mundra Project in Gujarat. While a major victory for campaigners worldwide, the ruling could end up being a headache for large international financiers, many of whom have been criticised for certain investments.
In 2008, the IFC had sanctioned $450 million in loans to build the coal-fired plant in Gujarat. But the EarthRights group, representing the farmers and fishermen living near the plant, sued the IFC for failing to meet the obligations to check if the project met environmental standards.
Down to Earth wrote: “It has undeniably thrown open an opportunity for people’s’ movements, fighting against destructive developmental projects, to include ‘finance’ as a part of their existing strategies.”