This PERSPECTIVES Paper makes an attempt to look at ADB’s role in North East. This research paper brings to focus the following:
On Unlocking North East
That the roads and highway funding are mostly for trade purposes and particularly for linking up with neighboring countries. Other kinds of roads which needed much attention are left out. One might recall that road sector development was also North East Council’s key funding sector amounting to some 41.27% of the total amount NEC funded from 1972-1007. And all along the road and highway sector has been primarily shaped by India’s security concerns then about meeting people’s requirements. If the government of India’s main concern were security, then ADB’s main preoccupation is resource and trade route and this imperative have override all other political, socio-economic concerns of the people of the region.
The Bank, as much as all other similar players, ignores the long term impact of such a road/highway and only focuses on immediate impact as defined by its safeguards mechanism. Current project preparation and design of ADB captures only the social and environmental impact of the project as defined by itself, but cannot take on board the long term impact of what the road can do to local populations. Impacts on local production and agricultural system by the flow of global trade is not being addressed. ADB in its above mentioned quote acknowledges that the “methods of cultivation and harvesting of forest products are not well-suited for larger scale operations or for competitive integration into a market economy”. This raises and important question on the comprehensiveness of the Safeguard Policy of the bank in addressing problems created by its projects, particularly in Indigenous Peoples’ economies which are paradigmatically opposed.
On Development under law of Impunity
It is a striking similarity that those imposing development are protected by a law much like those imposing security. ADB is protected by an immunity law that allows its personals to do a certain kind of development with impunity! According to the Asian Development Bank Act, 1966 (Act no. 18 of 1966) as modified upto 2013 Article no 50 states that “The Bank shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process, …….”. Article 55 further states that “All Governors, Directors, alternates, officers and employees of the Bank, including experts performing missions for the Bank: i) shall be immune from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity, except when the bank waves the immunity”. This means that when ADB builds dams, privatize water and commons, opens up corridors, funds large scale mining projects etc, the officials of the bank are free from any legal fear. Free from any legal entrapments. While AFSPA is geographically restricted, ADB immunity is spread to several communities and nations and hence its implications are wider. In other words, it’s a more powerful institution then the Indian Army that enjoys a draconian law.