Enron power stops flowing
Hurriyat shuts out peace emissary
Miffed Mamata mocks at comeback talk
Haveli facelift for homecoming
Calcutta Weather

Mumbai, May 30: 
Stunned by the decision of its sole customer to stop buying power, US multinational Enron-promoted Dabhol Power Company (DPC) today ceased generation.

However, continuing with the posturing and the endless saga of charges and countercharges, DPC denied that its 2,184-mw plant at Guhagar on the scenic Konkan coast in Maharashtra had been shut down.

Company officials insisted that DPC, the largest single foreign investment in India and the only fast-track power project that has seen the light of day, continues to operate even after the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) stopped buying from it.

At noon yesterday, when the routine telex communication of hourly despatch instructions from MSEB giving details of power requirements failed to come, DPC officials knew something was amiss.

Reports were swirling all through the day that the project had been closed down. But in a late-night communique, DPC denied the news. “We wish to clarify that Dabhol Power Company has not shut down its plant. The plant continues to be operational as required by the power purchase agreement (PPA). However, MSEB has not issued despatch instructions since 12 noon on May 29, 2001.”

The company also tried to strike an amiable posture after days of baiting: “DPC wishes to reiterate that we will continue to follow the power purchase agreement and meet our contractual obligations, enforcing our rights under contracts and taking various disputes to the dispute resolution process.”

It pointed out that it had recently issued a preliminary termination notice, which is followed by a six-month period before final termination. “Currently, we are not planning to terminate prior to the lapse of six months. Even though it was necessary to issue a notice, we are still open to constructive discussion on solutions.”

One such solution could emerge from an initiative that was set rolling by Union power minister Suresh Prabhu. He has asked the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to examine whether other state electricity boards can purchase power from DPC.

R.N Srivastava, former CEA chairman, said: “It is a good suggestion. CEA has the necessary data and information to find which SEB needs power, and how it can be evacuated.”

“Power being a state subject, the Centre cannot interfere in the matters of a state government. It is the state electricity regulatory commission which will have to decide the tariff and transmission. It can also mediate between DPC and the board which wants to buy the power,” he added.

Domestic financial institutions, which have over Rs 6,000 crore locked up in the project, will be the hardest hit if the dispute is not resolved.

At a meeting in Mumbai, R.S. Agarwal, the Industrial Development Bank of India executive director, said the lenders would sit with Maharashtra government and MSEB officials.

The leaders decided to take the initiative to stop the legal battle between MSEB and DPC.

Agarwal hinted that DPC officials were open to discussion, if they received a firm commitment from MSEB for purchasing 90 per cent of the generation from the two phases of the project.

DPC has already offered to cut tariff by 10 per cent after Phase II starts generating.


Srinagar and Delhi, May 30: 
The separatist All-Parties Hurriyat Conference today almost shut the door on talks with the Central interlocutor, K.C. Pant, stripping his six-day mission to Jammu and Kashmir of all significance and leaving a long-term question mark on the relevance of his role.

“Pant’s mission has lost substance and glamour, too, if it had any,” said Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat in an interview.

“The ladder which he (Pant) was required to ascend has broken to pieces after the Prime Minister invited the Pakistani chief executive for the summit meeting,” Bhat said. “Pant’s Mission Kashmir is dead.”

There are people in government who would agree with Bhat. They might also smile knowingly at his expressing the doubt if Pant’s role had any “substance” to begin with. His appointment as the government’s pointman for Kashmir had been interpreted as a signal that the role of the Prime Minister’s Office, particularly that of principal secretary Brajesh Mishra, in the peace initiative was being whittled down.

Until then, the PMO was almost completely in charge of the peace process. The change took place after the PMO and Mishra came under fire in the wake of the Tehelka exposé. With the announcement of Pervez Musharraf’s visit, the cards are again all back in the PMO’s hands. The Hurriyat’s statement confirms that fact.

Bhat rejected Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s call yesterday that the Hurriyat should first talk with Pant before meeting Musharraf, which the Pakistanis are looking for. “Now that the talking is going to happen at the highest level, lower levels cannot deliver anything,” he said.

He, however, suggested that the Hurriyat is not going to seek a meeting with the Pakistan chief executive. “We are yet to receive any invitation from Pakistan about a meeting. If we get, we will discuss it in our executive before taking any decision.”

Bhat rubbished Pant’s efforts so far, saying that meeting pro-India political leaders, houseboat owners and businessmen in Srinagar is “not going to lead to any change on the ground”.

“Peace does not happen on lips. It has to be established on ground and you can never do it unless you recognise realities on ground,” Bhat said. The reference was to a statement by Pant: “Absence of peace is hampering the state’s development.”

“We don’t live by bread alone. Bread is important. We have other cravings more important than bread. Blood flows for what? For the pleasure of it. Is it?” he asked.


Calcutta, May 30: 
On the eve of meeting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Delhi for the first time since their split in March, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee today said her party was “not at all hungry for power” and that she had no plans to rejoin the NDA immediately.

Mamata, who left for Delhi this evening with seven Trinamul MPs and a band of MLAs and party leaders, is apparently irked by the Prime Minister’s statement in Manali yesterday that there was no proposal for Trinamul rejoining the NDA.

“We may have lost the election but we are not beggars and neither are we hungry for power. We are not joining the NDA government. Mind you, we have not lost our credibility,” Mamata said.

Mamata, who had earlier said she would meet the Prime Minister and home minister L.K. Advani and submit memoranda on the “state-sponsored rigging and terrorism”, today appeared reluctant to admit it in public. “We will decide after reaching Delhi whom we will meet. I can only tell you that I am meeting the President tomorrow at 6 pm.”

The official reason for Mamata’s visit to Delhi, leading an 18-member delegation, is to meet President K.R. Narayanan.

Tomorrow, Mamata will seek to convince the President that the ruling communists had “resorted to violence and unfair means” to win the elections.

She is also expected to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and inform her about “the serious constraints under which our candidates contested the polls”.

Sources said Mamata was unlikely to take any hasty decision on moving closer to the NDA. “There is no doubt that a large section of our counterparts in the NDA wants us to rejoin. But we also have to think about the party’s credibility. We will have to be very patient and maintain our neutrality, identity and dignity,” a Trinamul leader said.

Before leaving for Delhi, Mamata came down heavily on the “rumour-mongering” that was on about the possibility of her returning to the NDA. “These rumours must stop immediately. Rumour-mongering is a criminal offence.”

Sources close to Mamata said she was unhappy with a section of the BJP leadership “making too much noise” over Trinamul’s possible comeback.

Mamata is increasingly coming under pressure from within her party as well as the BJP and its partners to return, senior Trinamul leaders said.

“Inside the party, there is a growing view that Trinamul must return to the NDA if its identity and honour are to be respected,” said a leader who is part of Mamata’s think-tank.

According to these leaders, Mamata is being pressured by her party to forge a “strategic relationship” with the NDA and thereafter return to the alliance. But they expect the process, if at all it succeeds, to be long drawn out.


New Delhi, May 30: 
Tucked away in a warren of lanes in Old Delhi, Neharwali Haveli has suddenly acquired celebrity status: it happens to be the ancestral home of Pervez Musharraf.

With Pakistan’s chief executive saying he would like to visit the house where he was born, this nondescript building located behind Golcha cinema has become the hub of activity for politicians and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The haveli has proved a leveller: taking a break from the anti-Pakistan tirade, the BJP’s Chandni Chowk MP, Vijay Goel, has launched a drive to clean up the roads leading to the house and get the place lit up. Goel, in whose constituency the mansion is located, claimed he might even organise a “grand reception” for the General provided he contained the “Pakistan-sponsored” cross-border terrorism. “He (Musharraf) promised to stop cross-border terrorism. We will watch him carefully and, depending on what he does, we may plan a grand reception for him,” Goel said.

In what seemed like a token nod to the BJP’s time-tested anti-Pakistan plank, the MP added: “Of course, I’m doing all this for the people of Chandni Chowk and not just Musharraf,” though he was silent when asked if the sudden burst of interest in Neharvali Haveli was prompted by the VIP visitor from Islamabad.

Shoaib Iqbal, the Independent MLA who represents Matia Mahal Assembly constituency, had no such ideological qualms: he has already given Rs 10 lakh from his constituency fund to the MCD and the Delhi Vidyut Board to rebuild the roads, clean up the sewer pipes and put up sodium lights in and around Musharraf’s ancestral mansion. He has set a month’s deadline to get things in place.

Civic amenities apart, Iqbal has planned a social agenda for Musharraf if he visits Old Delhi. “I want him to offer the jumma namaz at Jama Masjid and visit some of the neighbouring havelis as well,” he said.

The area draws its claim to fame not just from Neharwali Haveli, but has been home to a bevy of Muslim personalities from the pages of history: Sir Syed Ahmed, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, Behram Khan, Akbar’s guardian till the Mughal emperor came of age, the barrister and INA leader Asaf Ali, and Shauqat Ali, a leading light of the Khilafat movement.

Iqbal today wrote to foreign minister Jaswant Singh, asking if he would be permitted to play host to Musharraf during his Old Delhi visit. He claimed that his own ancestral home was next to the Pakistan leader’s. “He used to be our neighbour and I want to be his host so that a cordial atmosphere can be built to foster relations between India and Pakistan,” Iqbal said.

He denied he was working in tandem with Goel. “I have nothing to do with him. I have been involved in this endeavour from the moment I heard that the General wanted to visit his birthplace. Goel came in much later, probably after realising the publicity potential of the event,” Iqbal said.

Intelligence and security personnel are also doing the rounds to ensure that all goes well when Musharraf is shown around. “They took the particulars of the house and of the people living here,” said Sunil Jain, one of the occupants. His older brother, D.K. Jain, was discussing plans with Goel.

Though Musharraf was born in this house, his family is believed to have shifted sometime in 1946. Today, the property houses a hotel, a market, a parking space of the cinema and 16 families, including the Jains who own the “most important” seven and eight portions of the haveli which have brought them instant fame.




Maximum: 36.5°C (+2)
Minimum: 27.4°C (0)



Relative Humidity

Minimum: 50%


Partly cloudy sky, with possibility of rain and thunder in some parts towards the evening.
Sunrise: 4.55 am
Sunset: 6.13 pm

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