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Michelle Chawla

12 April 2006

Situated a mere 120 kilometres north of the city of Mumbai, Dahanu's population consists predominantly of the indigenous community of Warlis. The region has a large fishing, farming, and traditional artisan community. Famous for the chikoo fruit, Dahanu is also home to the fun loving Zoroastrian community, primarily orchard owners.

Dahanu has been declared as an ecologically fragile area. It is surrounded by the rapidly advancing industrial and commercial metropolises of Mumbai and Vapi. Energy giant Reliance Energy Limited's 500 MW thermal power plant supplies electricity to the northern suburbs in Mumbai – one of every four households in Mumbai is powered by the Dahanu Plant.

On 4 April 2006 the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) conducted tests in the presence of local groups and community representatives to assess the temperature of the water discharged from Reliance's 500 MW plant in Dahanu. The MPCB tests were conducted in response to case filed with the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority, by local environmental groups and the affected community of inland fisherfolk residing in Pale–Lingapada very close to the plant. They stated in their complaint that their livelihood was severely affected by the hot water discharge from the plant.

"The community has been complaining of hot water discharge especially in the months of April and May and this is having an effect on marine life, specifically on prawns. Moreover, due to the continuous flow of hot water, the northern banks of the creek are eroding and some fishermen are unable to place their nets in areas where they have been doing so traditionally” said Brian Lobo, member of the Kashtkari Sanghatana.

Community representatives belonging to the fishing community residing at Pale-Lingapada near the plant and representatives of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Welfare Association (DTEWA), refused to accept the findings of the MPCB, which showed the discharge to be within permissible limits, given that this was no surprise visit. They conducted tests once again later in the afternoon in the presence of the press. They found the temperature to be higher than permitted, vindicating the fears of the community. DTEWA is a local the environmental group.

The DTEWA feels that the MPCB tests could not be taken as indicative of the real problem of hot water discharge in view of the fact that it was a pre-announced test. One day was simply insufficient to ascertain the problem, the association felt. DTEWA had conducted preliminary tests of the water discharged from the Plant and found it to be beyond permissible limits.

As per consent conditions issued by MPCB to Reliance Energy in 2004, the maximum temperature of the hot water discharged had to be within the limit of 50 Centigrade of the intake water temperature. However readings from an industrial thermometer showed the inlet temperature at 260C while the outlet went as high as 350 C, 40C higher than permitted. They made this case before the DTEPA on 21 March and the Chairman, Justice Dharmadhikari (Retd.) directed the MPCB to conduct fresh tests in their presence.

Since the tests, the representatives of Pale-Lingapada and the DTEWA have signed a dissent note stating that continuous and regular monitoring was required to get a clearer assessment of the problem. They also demanded that a more permanent system of monitoring be installed at the site of intake and at the outlet.

Michelle Chawla
12 Apr 2006

Michelle Chawla is a coordinator of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Welfare Association. She was present during the tests. Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) is at: 2nd Floor, Zoroastrian House, Horniman Circle, Fort Mumbai -1. The Dahanu Taluka Environment Welfare Association (DTEWA), is at: 1, Sapote Building Irani Road, Dahanu - 401602, Maharashtra. Tel: 02528-222241.

Citizen Direct is India Together's channel for publishing reports from citizens who have detailed information about specific civil society concerns and matters, by virtue of their participation, association, or independent observation. These reports are therefore as witnessed and understood by the authors themselves; India Together accepts no liability or responsibility for them.   More

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