CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

South Asia

India / Tata Tea-02/Assam

Peoples’ Action for Development; Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis, Diocesan Board of Social Services.
Date Filed
February 02, 2013
Labor and working conditions
Case Status
Open - Compliance


IFC’s project with Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) is to enable the setting up of a company that would acquire and manage the 24 tea plantations located in Assam and West Bengal, currently owned by Tata Tea Limited (TTL), and would implement a sustainable “worker-shareholder” model in which the management and employees have a significant shareholding.  The total project cost including capital expenditure and working capital is estimated at $87 million; the IFC investment comprises an equity investment of $7.8 million.


In February 2013, three local NGOs filed a complaint on behalf of tea workers working and living in the company’s tea plantation areas.  The complaint raises concerns about labor and working conditions at three different plantations, specifically citing long working hours, unpaid compensation, poor hygiene and health conditions, and a lack of freedom to associate among plantation workers. Furthermore, the complainants question the worker share-buying program, contending workers have been pressured into buying shares, often without proper information about the risks of such an investment.


CAO Action
CAO found the complaint eligible for assessment in February 2013. During the assessment, there was a lack of consensus amongst the parties to engage in a CAO facilitated dispute resolution process.  Hence, in accordance with CAO’s Operational Guidelines the case was referred to CAO’s Compliance function in November 2013. In February 2014, CAO completed a compliance appraisal in relation to this complaint. The appraisal determined that CAO would conduct a compliance investigation of IFC’s E&S performance in relation to its investment in APPL, considering both the issues raised by the current complaint and the issues discussed in the January 2013 appraisal related to the Tata Tea-01 case.


CAO’s investigation report was released in November 2016. While noting that IFC’s investment in the company had potential for significant development impact, CAO’s investigation identifies a number of non-compliances related to IFC’s assessment and management of environmental and social (E&S) risk associated with the investment. Given the vulnerable status of workers and the client’s responsibility to provide a range of basic services to workers, CAO finds that IFC’s pre-investment E&S review of the investment was not commensurate to risk. Shortcomings in this review, led to the development of mitigation measures which were insufficiently detailed and did not address key risk areas. During supervision, CAO found that IFC did not assure itself of compliance with its Performance Standards. As a result, E&S compliance issues raised by the complainants remain unaddressed. CAO’s investigation also makes a number of specific non-compliance findings in relation to IFC’s assessment and supervision of living and working conditions on the plantations, reported use of banned pesticides, information disclosure, consultation and response to security incidents.


All documents relating to this case are available under "View Documents" below.

IFC has released a public response to CAO’s investigation report. CAO is monitoring IFC’s actions in response to the investigation findings and will issue a monitoring report by April 2018. 

Status as of November 9, 2017

Project information

Project Name & Number
Tata Tea 25074
Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL)
South Asia
Environmental Category
$7.87m Equity

Case Tracker


  • Eligible: Completed
  • Assessment Period: Completed


  • Under Appraisal: Completed
  • Under Audit: Completed
  • Monitoring: In Process

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