Protestors took to the streets here Wednesday as the Asian Development Bank held its annual meeting on expanding free trade in a region which is home to two-thirds of the world's poor.
More than 1,000 people beating drums and carrying banners rallied against the lending policies of the ADB and the World Bank which they branded as anti-poor, witnesses said.
Several hundred protestors had already demonstrated during the early morning in this southern Indian city to protest the "anti-people policies" of the multilateral agency.
Wearing black headbands, brown and green jackets proclaiming "Destroy ADB" and "Go back ADB", the demonstrators, including women and children, shouted slogans against the Manila-based lender.
"ADB hands off our water, our health, our forests, our livelihood and our environment," a huge banner read.
"These agencies are undemocratic and push their own agenda without listening to our voices," said Murad Hussian, head of a 70-member group from India's eastern state of West Bengal.
The People's Forum Against ADB, an umbrella group of more than 70 non- governmental organisations, also kicked off a "parallel session" in Hyderabad to highlight the plight of people displaced by ADB projects, what it claims to be the lack of accountability of the ADB and other social issues.
"The ADB, like the World Bank, has become the custodian of private investment and the promoter and protector of corporate interests and profits," said Gururaja Budhya, a People's Forum spokesperson.
"The projects of the ADB continue to displace hundreds of thousands of people across the region with little or no compensation," he said. "The ADB creates development refugees and manufactures poverty."
On Friday, the People's Forum is planning a rally in Hyderabad and more than 7,000 people are expected to attend, Budhya said.
More than 3,000 delegates including finance ministers, business leaders and representatives from global organisations are attending the ADB's 39th annual meeting to focus on Asian development challenges.
ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said the major challenge was to bridge the widening gap between rich and poor and to ensure that the poor benefit from economic growth.
"This will not be easy to achieve. There are a number of challenges," Kuroda told a press conference.
"Broad-based growth can only be achieved if people have basic access to clean water and sanitation, and if the poor are provided with education and training to get jobs.
"The greatest threat to private investment and growth in many countries is the high level of risk arising from regulatory weaknesses, policy uncertainty and market distortions. This is a critical moment for Asia," Kuroda said. "How we respond to these challenges will shape the region's future," he added. The ADB is expected to finalise a new medium-term strategy for Asia at the annual meeting.
"I expect the strategy will confirm ADB's fundamental goal of poverty alleviation and intensify our focus on a few key areas as well as regional cooperation and integration," Kuroda said.
The formal sessions of the ADB meeting run May 5-6 with various meetings taking place in the run up to the official opening.