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The World Bank Inspection Panel will carry out an investigation into a loan approved by the institution to South African state-owned energy corporation Eskom, for the construction of an electric coal-powered central in Lephalale, Limpopo province. The loan amounts to 3.7 billion dollars.
The investigators reached the decision based on a preliminary work carried out in May, after the local residents voiced their health, environmental, cultural and human rights concerns related with the installation of the new plant, called Medupi.
The Inspection Panel is World Bank independent agency that reviews and investigates the claims of people who consider that they or their interests could be damaged by a project funded by the institution.
The panel’s chairperson, Robert Lenton, explained that the local residents “argue important matters” related with several “damages” which can only be addressed within the investigation”, cites the press release issued by environmental organizations Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and GroundWork – Friends of the Earth South Africa.
The two organizations had jointly called for an investigation on behalf of the local communities. In April, they had warned that all the South Africans would suffer the environmental and social impact of the installation of the new central.
They explained at the time, that three main water sources, the Limpopo, Vaal and Senque rivers, would be diverted to give way to the plant and other future power centrals.
Medupi has six units with a capacity of almost 4,800 megawatts. The South African environmental organizations questioned the World Bank’s decision of granting a loan for the production of dirty energy, amid an international climate crisis.
The chair of GroundWork/Friends of the Earth South Africa, Bobby Peek, highlighted the South African government’s anxiety (which is pressuring to get the loan), as a result of the fact that the Inspection Panel had answered the concerns of the local communities and non governmental organizations.
Meanwhile, the project coordinator of Eartlife Africa Johannesburg,
Tristen Taylor, said that “when the panel came to South Africa, they
interviewed people, they visited the area and really saw what is going to happen and what is happening, it got a ’warning call’”
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