Environment Ministry declines clearance to Renuka Dam Project

Delhi`s hopes to meet its growing demand of potable water from HP`s Renuka Dam have been dashed with Environment Ministry refusing to give nod to the Rs 3,600-cr project as it requires felling of a "very large number" of trees.

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2010, 22:28 PM IST

Shimla/New Delhi: Delhi`s hopes to meet its
growing demand of potable water from Himachal Pradesh`s Renuka
Dam have been dashed with the Environment Ministry refusing to
give nod to the Rs 3,600-crore project as it requires felling
of a "very large number" of trees.

The setback to the 40 MW project, aimed at supplying
drinking water to Delhi, comes at a time when land acquisition
work was almost over and Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation
Limited (HPPCL) was in the final stage of inviting global
tenders to implement the project.

When contacted, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) chief executive
officer Ramesh Negi said that he was not aware of any such
order from the environment ministry.

He said that Renuka Dam is the only source to augment
Delhi`s raw water needs in future. "In fact, there is no other
source of water to meet the needs that has been identified so
far," Negi said while underlining the importance of the Renuka
Dam for the increasing water demand in the city.

In fact, Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta has been
personally reviewing the construction work of the dam on the
Giri River, which will offer a storage capacity of 542 million
cubic meters of water and an installed power capacity of 40
MW. It will also supply Delhi with an additional 275 MGD of
water.

The dam has been planned keeping in mind the requirements
of the Master Plan for Delhi-2021 and the DJB has already
released Rs 300 crore to the Himachal Pradesh Government for
purchase of land for its construction.

Delhi will have to pay Rs 3,000 crore for the entire
project.

However, the Environment ministry`s refusal to give nod
has played spoilsport to plans of the Delhi Government.

The Environmental Appraisal Committee (EAC) had approved
the project in October last year, but on August 31 the
Ministry said since the proposal involved high density forest
areas and required felling of "a very large number" of trees,
the clearance could not be given.

HPPCL had sought permission to divert 990 Hectare (Ha)
of forest land, which was later reduced to 775 ha, in Renuka,
Paonta, Nahan, Rajgarh and Wildlife divisions of Sirmaur
district.

However, people of the affected villages were up in arms
against the project and had launched a protracted battle
against project authorities.

The Environment Clearance to the project was also
challenged before the Appellate Authority but despite
opposition to the project, the Himachal government used the
urgency clause to forcefully acquire land under the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894.

-PTI