31 October, 2020

A Ghost Town Comes To Life

Shut for five years, Dabhol goes online again. But some old problems continue to haunt.

Atul Loke
A Ghost Town Comes To Life

Driving into Guhagar (Maharashtra), in the shadows of India’s largest power unit, on a Monday is like entering a ghost town. Everything is shut because it is the weekly power-cut day. On other days, there’s load shedding for nearly six hours. Still, in many other ways, Guhagar is returning to life. For, it is home to the Dabhol power plant, which restarted power production this month after staying shut for five years. Here, everyone has a Dabhol story—some because they worked there earlier, others as they benefited obliquely from the project, and many who opposed it vehemently.

During the 1990s, the locals clashed consistently. It turned out to be a tussle between those whose livelihoods (growing mangoes and fishing) suffered and those who managed high-paying jobs with an MNC owner, the now-bankrupt US-based Enron, that was accused of paying kickbacks and jacking up electricity prices. Years later, the classic fight between lost livelihoods and new opportunities is still on—the old workers are demanding that they be...



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