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Dhabhol Power Plant - India
"Many energy companies have invested in closed or repressive countries -- arguing that their investment would help develop the local economy and thereby improve the human rights situation. But in this case, Enron has invested in a democratic country -- and human rights abuses there have increased. Enron hasn't made things better for human rights; it has made things worse." Responsibility: Financing Institutions and the Government of the United States
Table of Contents

Key Individuals Named in this Report

I. Summary and Recommendations

II. Background: New Delhi and Bombay

III. Background to the Protests: Ratnagiri District

IV. Legal Restrictions Used to Suppress Opposition to the Dabhol Power Project

V. Ratnagiri: Violations of Human Rights 1997

VI. The Applicable Laws

VII. Complicity: The Dabhol Power Corporation

VIII. Responsibility: Financing Institutions and the Government of the United States

IX. Conclusion

Appendix A: Correspondence Between Human Rights Watch and the Export-Import Bank of the United States

Appendix B: Report of the Cabinet Sub-Committee to Review the Dabhol Power Project

Appendix C: Selected Recommendations and Conclusions from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy, May 29, 1995

Appendix D: Correspondence Between the Government of India and the World Bank

VIII. Responsibility: Financing Institutions and the Government of the United States

Human Rights Watch believes that the financiers of Phase I, and the U.S. government agencies involved in lobbying for the project, share responsibility for the human rights violations described above. The U.S. government bears special responsibility because of its forceful, aggressive lobbying on behalf of the three U.S.-based companies developing the project; and because it extended hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds for the project while it was seemingly indifferent to the human rights policies that govern these transactions.

Human Rights Watch also believes that the institutions which agreed to finance Phase II need to implement adequate safeguards to ensure respect for human rights in order to avoid responsibility for human rights violations. In particular, these institutions should demonstrate their clear commitment to respect human rights by addressing the legal prohibitions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which are still in force; the fact that many of the cases against activists are still pending; and the fact that the company receiving funding (DPC) has made no attempt to correct its practices and ensure respect for human rights, but rather continues to benefit from the abuses.

In previous reports, Human Rights Watch has called for governmental and private financial institutions to condition financing for projects on measurable compliance with human rights. For example, in 1992, in a report on the Narmada Dam in India, Human Rights Watch called on donor governments “to urge the World Bank to include specific human rights protections in any decision to continue funding” of the project, and “If human rights violations continue, the World Bank should suspend further disbursements of funds for the project.”264 In a 1995 report on the Three Gorges Dam in China, Human Rights Watch recommended that governmental and private institutions should “insist on human rights impact assessment studies before providing any financing, goods or services” and “insist on firm and verifiable guarantees...that human rights will be respected before committing themselves to the project.”265

In the case of the Dabhol Power project, because of the complexities and numerous actors involved in financing, Human Rights Watch investigated the roleof financial institutions for Phase I of the project to determine whether any safeguards existed to monitor or condemn human rights violations. We also examined the actors responsible for financing Phase II.

264 “Before the Deluge: Human Rights Abuses at India’s Narmada Dam,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 4, Issue 15, June 17, 1992, p. 3. 265 “The Three Gorges Dam in China: Forced Resettlement, Suppression of Dissent and Labor Rights Concerns,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 1995, p. 5.