Enron: a murky drama

"On Enron, a single message has been delivered: any or every deal will survive only on the strength of its merit and not on the capacity to corrupt us or that of threats by any super power," 5ushma 5waraj, BJP spokesperson, had said, rationalising the decision to scrap the 2,015 MW power project in Maharashtra. But the decision of the state's ruling BJP-5hiv 5ena (55) alliance to revive it in November 1995 speaks volumes about the party's seriousness.

In the 1995 state assembly elections, the alliance had rode to power on its promise of scrapping the project. The project was shelved following the Mundhe Committee recommendations, which stated: "The main issue over here is whether the project should be built in pollution.free Dabhol area, or whether any other site could be used for it... If due care is not taken, sea habitat and vegetation will have to face problems."

Experts had taken the environmental reasons cited by the alliance for shelving with a pinch of salt, saying that the hitches were purely financial and procedural. But critics of the project contended that the power plant's use of sea water could affect marine life. All doubts about the BJP's sincerity towards environmental issues involved in the project have been set at rest by Pramod Mahajan, the BJP general secretary, in an interview to the Times of India (March 31, 1996). Mahajan said: "In our manifesto, we said we will rEview the project. We reviewed it, requested them to reduce the costs. They did not agree. We gave them shock treatment and they came to their knees. Actually only a small group in the BJP was against it."