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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." Background to the Protests: Ratnagiri District
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

Contamination of salt water

The other water-based issue of concern, particularly to fishing villages, is the effect of hot-water discharge into bodies of water where fishing takes place once the project goes on-line in 1999. The water is first used to cool the Dabhol Power plant. According to the minutes of a meeting between Enron and government officials on March 13, 1993, “Bobby Farris, General Manager, Enron indicated that sea water cooling is required, water requirement for the plant will be around 2,500 gallons per minute (13.5 million liters per day)....”94

Once the water is circulated through the plant, it is to be discharged back into the sea at a higher temperature. The water, which may also contain toxic effluents, can be expected to raise the ambient temperature of the water and may cause pollution which will kill fish and prawns, thereby destroying the fisherpeoples’ means of subsistence. These concerns were raised in 1993, when individuals sent letters to the company during the two-month notification period. This is an excerpt from a letter written by a local organization concerned about the project’s impact on communities:

It is learnt from the meeting held by the collector of Ratnagiri on October 8, 1993 that the sea water will be taken in through the pipeline and released outside. The water which will be released will be five degrees Celsius higher. If this water is released in the sea, it will affect fishing. About 2,000 families of fisherfolk are living off fishing done near the seashore. If the released water affects the fish in the sea, the families of the fisherfolk may suffer a lot. The water to be released out, should be left in the deep sea, after releasing its temperature. Care should be taken that the pipeline won’t come in the way of fishing.95

Vithal Padyal, a resident of Veldur village, has two sons who work as laborers for DPC. His sons were arrested during a police raid on Veldur on June 3, 1997 (see Section V below). Padyal explained the environmental problems the project creates and its consequent impact on the community’s means of sustenance:

The [Dabhol Power] project has benefits and losses. As and when they start discharging hot water into the sea, the whole community will be ata loss. Even today, drinking water tastes different due to contaminants and sewage. The only benefit of the project is that, at the moment, it generates some income opportunity for our sons. But opposition to the project is justified. So far all our earlier generations sustained themselves on the sea. When the fisheries are destroyed by hot water discharge, what are the next generations going to do for their livelihood?96

94 Minutes of the meeting between government officers and Enron held on March 12, 1993 at MSEB’s Head Office to discuss about the Dabhol Power Project, transcribed March 26, 1993, p. 4. Minutes of meeting on file at Human Rights Watch.

95 Letter from the Vidhut Prakalp Dakshata Committee, Veldur to the chief engineer, Dabhol Power Corporation, October 11, 1993. Letter on file at Human Rights Watch.

96 Human Rights Watch interview with Vithal Padyal, Veldur village, February 14, 1998.