US Supreme Court takes up dispute over power plant in India

File photo showing the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC (Reuters)
Updated 21 May 2018
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US Supreme Court takes up dispute over power plant in India

  • The justices will hear an appeal by the villagers of a lower court ruling that the International Finance Corp.
  • The plant’s construction and operations did not comply with the environmental plan set out for the project.

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider reviving a lawsuit by Indian villagers seeking to hold a Washington-based international financial institution responsible for widespread environmental damage they blame on a power plant it financed.
The justices will hear an appeal by the villagers of a lower court ruling that the International Finance Corp. was immune from such lawsuits under federal law. IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is an international institution with 184 member countries that helps secure financing for projects in developing nations.
The case revolves around the IFC’s decision in 2008 to provide $450 million in loans to help construct the coal-fired Tata Mundra Power Plant in Gujarat, India. IFC loans include provisions requiring that certain environmental standards are met.
The legal question before the justices is whether there are limits to immunity for entities like the IFC under the 1945 International Organizations Immunity Act, as there are for foreign countries under a 1976 law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
Lead plaintiff Budha Ismail Jam and other fisherman and farmers who live near the plant sued in federal court in Washington in 2015, saying the IFC had failed to meet its obligations.
They said the plant’s construction and operations did not comply with the environmental plan set out for the project. The local environment has been devastated, according to the plaintiffs, with marine life killed by water discharges from the plant’s cooling system and coal dust contaminating the air.
A district court in 2016 and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2017 ruled that the lawsuit was barred because the IFC is immune from such litigation under the 1945 law.
The court will hear arguments and decide the case in its next term, which begins in October.


Pakistan PM Imran Khan fires back after criticism from Donald Trump

Updated 19 November 2018
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Pakistan PM Imran Khan fires back after criticism from Donald Trump

  • Imran Khan tweeted that Pakistan had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the “US War on Terror”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister fired back Monday after President Donald Trump accused the country of harboring Osama bin Laden despite getting billions of dollars in American aid.
Imran Khan tweeted that Pakistan had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the “US War on Terror,” despite the fact that no Pakistanis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the US has only provided a “minuscule” $20 billion in aid.
US commandos killed bin Laden in a May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he had been living in seclusion in a house near a well-known military academy. Pakistan denies it knew bin Laden’s whereabouts prior to the raid, which was carried out without its knowledge. It later arrested Dr. Shakil Afridi, who had run a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to help the CIA confirm bin Laden’s whereabouts.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said “everybody in Pakistan” knew bin Laden was there and no one said anything despite the US providing $1.3 billion a year in aid. Trump said he had cut off the aid “because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
The US and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to Islamic extremists and of harboring leaders of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan denies those allegations, pointing to the heavy toll of its war against the Pakistani Taliban, a separate militant group that carries out attacks inside Pakistan.
Khan said Pakistan’s tribal areas along the border have been devastated by years of war, with millions uprooted from their homes.
He also pointed to the logistical support Pakistan has provided for the US war in Afghanistan. The main overland supply route for American forces fighting in Afghanistan runs through Pakistan.
Khan said the US has made Pakistan a “scapegoat” for its failures in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are stronger than at any point since the 2001 US-led invasion.