Going to seed

Published: Friday 30 April 2004

A thermal power plant (TPP) is threatening to snuff out the 100-year-old livelihood of farmers in Maharashtra's Dahanu taluka. It is alleged that pollution from the unit has led to a steady decline in the quality and quantity of chikoo (sapota) production.

The TPP, run by Reliance Energy (formerly Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply Limited), received a clearance in 1988. The Dahanu Taluk Environment Welfare Association (dtewa), along with local farmers, has been pressing the Maharashtra government to initiate remedial measures. But to their dismay, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has renewed the tpp's contract. Initially, it was decided that Reliance would install a fuel gas desulphurisation plant. But this plan is still on paper. dtewa believes that the corporate giant has not kept its word. Reliance, on the other hand, claims that the accusations are baseless.

A report states that daily emissions from the tpp include 76,000 kilogrammes (kg) of sulphur dioxide, 72,000 kg of nitrogen oxide and 4,700 kg of particulate matter. Sulphur dioxide emissions reduce the plant's resistance, making it vulnerable to pest attacks. Over 21,000 hectares of sapota plantations have been affected in the past five years. Farmowner Danesh Iran laments: "The chikoos that used to sell for Rs 10-15 a kg earlier, go for Rs 3 today."

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