... and I want to share just one of those memories with you.
Background: Enron came to India in the early '90s, wanting to set up a power plant in Maharashtra (via their Indian presence, the Dabhol Power Company or DPC). The then Congress Government in the state carried on negotiations with Enron that were, to anyone who paid it all some attention, somewhat dubious on various counts. Putting it kindly. And a lot of people paid a lot of attention, and spoke their minds about these negotiations, this impending deal.
None of which made the slightest difference at the time. Towards the end of 1993, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) and DPC had hammered out their Power Purchase Agreement that was, of course, the foundation of the whole project. It was written in almost deliberately complex and obfuscatory language that few people could fully understand. And in those pre-RTI days, a consumer organization in Pune tried to get a copy of the PPA from DPC.
Their reply, and I quote:
- To a country as yet unused to the phenomenon of privatisation this may be difficult to understand, but in a competitive market a PPA is the one document that affords companies an edge over the other players in the field. ... [Therefore] such a document is zealously guarded by all companies.
Only, "competitive market" and "other players" are not quite accurate phrases to use here. For in this particular agreement, there were no other players, no competitive market, no "edge". DPC bid for no contract. All of its power would be bought by one customer: MSEB.
The "phenomenon of privatisation", Enron style. Thank you for the lesson.
(Paraphrased from Power Play, Abhay Mehta's superb book about the Enron saga. More to come).