Shimla: The construction of the multi-billion rupee Renuka dam hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh which will provide drinking water to Delhi is yet to begin, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said here on Friday.
"The construction of the Renuka dam has not yet begun. The National Green Tribunal in its order July 28 granted a stay on the project," Dhumal informed the State Assembly in a written reply.
He said the tribunal, a judicial body hearing environment-related cases, has stayed on undertaking construction activities and passing of final award and payment of compensation for land acquisition.
According to initial estimates, Rs 3,600 crore will be spent on the project to be constructed by the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited, a public sector undertaking, on a tributary of the Yamuna river in Sirmaur district.
Dhumal said a rehabilitation policy has been framed. "So far 35 hectares of land has been purchased for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the project-affected people”.
The tribunal order was passed on a petition by Durga Ram, a project-affected villager, challenging the environmental clearance awarded to the dam by the environment and forests ministry in October 2009.
This was the second major setback for the project in less than a year.
The Environment Ministry had on August 31, 2010, objected to submersion of 775 hectares of forest land with the construction of the dam.
Water from the Renuka dam, a national status project, will be released into the Yamuna river, from where it will flow to Haryana`s Hathinikund barrage and finally reach Delhi.
The Delhi government has already given Rs 214.83 crore to Himachal Pradesh to start the construction work.
The project has been facing protests from villagers.
Under the banner of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti, the project-affected villagers claim that the government has not taken them into confidence before starting the land acquisition process. They claim that over 700 families of 37 villages would be affected.