Villagers from Guhagar in Ratnagiri district have learnt to live with the now-defunct Enron power plant in their neighbourhood.
The plant has now been taken over by the government and has been revived as the Ratnagiri Power Plant.
Gajanan Shankar Velhal (55), the sarpanch (village head) of Guhagar village quit his bank job to go back to his roots in Konkan and run his family shop in Guhagar in the late 70s.
He believes that revival of the power plant will be the revival of the economy of the cluster of villages near Guhagar.
Velhal says that the plant is here to stay and opposition will add to existing woes.
“We were told by environmentalists and politicians that the pollution from the plant will destroy our crops and leave our new born and future generations maimed like Bhopal. We have lived to see. Nothing has happened,” said Sadashiv, another villager.
“Our major crops coconut, supari and mango have survived,” Sadashiv added.
Environmentalists say the villagers should not be fooled. “Once the complete plant starts operating, there could be problems,” says Dr Jayendra Parulekar of the Save Western Ghats, who have taken up the battle against power plants in Konkan.
“Initially, there were problems like the bad construction of cooling towers leading to the discharge from these towers to mix up with all the water available in the nearby rivers,” Velhal says.
“Villagers having no other source of water protestested. Now a pipeline is in place and that problem has been sorted,” Velhal says.”
The plant has helped villagers find jobs and local contractors get ssignments.
The plant generates between 750 to 950 mega watts daily.
Parulekar says the Jaigad power plant that is coming up nearby could be more dangerous one as it will be a coal-fired one and the emissions could damage the entire area.