The project objective is to improve the operational efficiency and reliability of electricity supply in selected areas of West Bengal.
The project aims to modernize West Bengal’s electricity distribution system by providing financial and technical support for investments in:
(i) High voltage distribution system, aerial bunched cabling, 33/11 kilovolt gas insulated substations and underground cables
(ii) Smart consumer meters, deployment of distribution automation technologies and improving the existing commercial and enterprise information technology solutions
(ii) Technical assistance for institutional development and capacity building
The project will be co-financed with the World Bank, as lead co-financier. To ensure a harmonized approach to addressing ES aspects of the project, as permitted by AIIB’s Environmental and Social Policy (ESP), the World Bank’s new Environment and Social Framework (ESF) and Grievance Redress Service, will apply to the project in lieu of AIIB’s ESP. AIIB has reviewed the World Bank’s ESF and is satisfied that (i) the World Bank’s ESF is consistent with AIIB’s Articles of Agreement and materially consistent with the provisions of AIIB’s ESP and the relevant ES Standards; and (ii) the monitoring and reporting procedures that are in place are appropriate for the project. World Bank has rated both the environmental and social risk as “Moderate” which is equivalent to Category B as per AIIB’s ESP.
The project is being implemented in 14 districts of West Bengal. Accordingly, the World Bank has adopted a Framework approach and the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) has prepared a Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) World Bank has triggered the ESSs in two categories: a) General Assessment and b) Specific Risks and Impacts. Under the General Assessment category, World Bank has triggered ESS 1 (Environmental and Social Assessment and Management) and ESS 10 (Stakeholder Engagement and Information Disclosure). Under Specific Risks and Impacts category, World Bank has triggered ESS 2 (Labour and Working Conditions), ESS 3 (Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention and Management), ESS 4 (Community Health and Safety), ESS 5 (Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement), ESS 6 (Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources), ESS 7 (Indigenous Peoples/Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities), and ESS 8 (Cultural Heritage).
The potential ES impacts are mostly associated with construction and related activities such as site selection, construction, and operation of sub-stations as well as installation of underground cables and they are temporary in nature, localized and reversible in nature. Considering the nature of project activities and based on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies undertaken for the overall project, the potential ES impacts that arise out of construction-related activities, out of siting, construction, and operation of substations, as well as out of the installation of underground cables are not so widespread and are mostly restricted/confined to limited areas and in width of right-of-way. The social risk is assessed to be moderate as the project requires small quantities of land, and these are mostly being arranged through government lands with no or minimal informal settler issues, using the flexibility options in the site location.
A Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP) has been prepared for the project in accordance with World Banks’s policies considering the nature and scale of subprojects and potential risks and impacts. The project has a Grievance Redress Mechanism to address concerns of the affected people.
Prasanna V Salian
Department of Economic Affairs Ministry of Finance
Chairman and Managing Director
West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited