Hear views of Himachal`s dam-hit, Ramesh urged

Activists said here on Thursday that the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan (HNA), which fights for locals facing rehabilitation, sent the missive to Ramesh regarding Renuka dam project earlier this week.

Updated: Apr 14, 2011, 12:38 PM IST

Shimla: A group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has urged union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh to hear the local people`s viewpoint on construction of a hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh`s Sirmaur district.

Activists said here on Thursday that the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan (HNA), which fights for locals facing rehabilitation, sent the missive to Ramesh regarding Renuka dam project earlier this week.

The project that aims to quench the thirst of Delhi will also generate electricity for the hill state.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said April 2 that Ramesh would undertake field visit of the Renuka dam this month to know the ground realities and assess the exact situation.

In its letter, the HNA apprehended that the locals would not be allowed to meet the minister during his visit.

"We just want to highlight the impact of the dam on the livelihood of thousands of people and its impact on nature. For this, we are looking for an audience with Ramesh during his visit," HNA coordinator Guman Singh told a news agency.

The letter also urged the minister to again get the count of trees facing axe due to the dam construction through some independent agency rather than depending upon the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL), state-run project executing agency.

"The information provided by the HPPCL that out of 1,68,000 trees facing axe, not more than 9,000 are fully grown and the rest of them are small is wrong," it said.

The dam, which has already got the environment clearance, has been stalled following concerns over cutting of 1.77 lakh trees and displacement of locals.

Puran Chand, secretary of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti, said their demand is for scrapping the project as it is affecting their livelihood at the cost of supplying water to people of Delhi.

The water from Renuka dam, to be built at a cost of Rs 27 billion (USD 561 million), will be released into the Yamuna river, from where it will flow to Haryana`s Hathnikund barrage and finally reach Delhi.

Chand said more than 700 families of 37 villages would be affected by the dam`s construction.

IANS