|"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."||
Background to the Protests: Ratnagiri District
Table of Contents
V. Ratnagiri: Violations of Human Rights 1997
Appendix A: Correspondence Between Human Rights Watch and the Export-Import Bank of the United States
Appendix D: Correspondence Between the Government of India and the World Bank
According to Enrons estimates, the project will circulate about 8,338 liters of fresh water per minute.86 Consequently, local water supplies were diverted to the project, at the expense of villagers. Professor Pawar explained:
[W]here there is water, there is prosperity. Farmers desperately need water. Had they [the government] provided water, the entire region would have become prosperous. People are angry about this. For thirty years, people have demanded water without any success... Now people are not amused to see water shipped to Enron.87
The problem of fresh water diversion became so severe in 1996-1997 that the company agreed to provide villagers with water, brought in tankers. Later the DPC dug wells in villages, attempting to offset the water shortages. The water supply scheme was announced in Dabhol Samvad:
The summer of 1996 reflected the need for urgent provision of drinking water to the nodal villages around the project. Our community development team studied the issue and discussed with various people how we can combine to supplying drinking water to at least some of our neighbors.88
The company did not make a firm commitment to restore the water supply to its original levels but only agreed to supply the amount that wells and tankers could bring to affected villages. The company noted that the success of the program will also depend on the extent and level of ground water in the area.89 The results are not promising. S.D. Khare, a local leader of opposition to the Dabhol Power project who provides legal aid to villagers arrested for their participation in protests against the project, noted that before the project, the villages had 300,000 liters of water daily. Enrons programs only provide 40,000 liters of water a day and havebeen unable to fulfill the request to provide 100,000 liters of water a day.90 Consequently, even with the company providing water, the villagers are notably worse-off than they were before 1994.
Villagers used to have drinking water twenty-four hours a day. Since the Enron project started, they only have one hour of water a day. In contrast, Enron has its own pipeline and wastes water regularly. For two months in June and July , there was no drinking water. Villagers would have to go to the river, but now, untreated sewage is dumped into the river and the water is unpotable.92
Given the detrimental impact on villagers, further diversion of water to DPC could only lead to increased tensions. For example, on February 7, 1997, Enron diverted water from the Aareygaon dam at the Modkagar reservoir, which it had not tapped before. Villagers who received their water from the reservoir were forced to live with significantly diminished water supplies. This would lead to protests and mass arrests of demonstrators (see Section V below).93
90 S.D. Khare, Report on Violations of Human Rights by Enron, Guhagar village, July 1997, p. 22. Khare documented the environmental, social, and economic problems that the project created. He also documented human rights violations by police against opponents of the project. These were detailed in this report.
92 Human Rights Watch interview with R. Priya, Bombay, February 4, 1998. Priya is a graduate student at Georgia Tech University in the United States, studying the effect of the project on the environment and local communities.