WASHINGTON (CN) – Blocked at every turn from suing over a coal-fired power plant built in Gujarat, India, a group of fisherman persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case Monday.
Budha Ismail Jam is the lead plaintiff in the case, which says that opening of the $4.14 billion Tata Mundra Plant in 2013 has fundamentally threatened or destroyed their way of life.
In addition to degrading local air quality, locals say the plant has severely damaged the marine ecosystem, with hot water from its cooling system depressing the fish catch near the shore, and the water intake channel polluting groundwater with saltwater, making irrigation and drinking impossible.
While a subsidiary of Indian company Tata Power owns the plant in question, the private-lending arm of the World Bank Group, International Finance Corp., provided $450 million to the project.
After a federal judge found the suit barred by the International Organizations Immunities Act, the D.C. Circuit affirmed last year.
Jam in turn petitioned for a writ of certiorari, and the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it will answer whether the International Organizations Immunities Act confers the same immunity on such organizations as foreign governments have under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
Per its custom, the court did not otherwise comment on the case.
The fishermen are represented by Jeffrey Fisher with the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Clinic.
White & Case attorney Francis Vasquez Jr. meanwhile represents the International Finance Corp.