Himachal to re-submit Renuka dam proposal for green clearance

March 11th, 2011 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Shimla, March 11 (IANS) An environment clearance proposal for Himachal Pradesh’s multi-billion-rupee hydropower dam project - which will quench the thirst of Delhi - would be re-submitted to the union environment and forests ministry, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said here Friday.

“Observations raised by the environment ministry regarding counting of trees and wildlife management plan would be completed soon. The (forest land diversion proposal) case will be re-submitted to the ministry shortly,” Dhumal said in his written reply in the state assembly.

The ministry has objected to submersion of 775 hectares of forest land with the construction of a dam on Renuka river, a tributary of the Yamuna river, in Sirmaur district.

The ministry’s Aug 31, 2010, communication, a copy of which was accessed by the IANS, said: “The recommendations of the forest advisory committee (of the ministry) were placed for approval before the ministry, which has declined to accept…as the proposal involves high-density forest and requires felling of a very large number of trees.”

Dhumal said he had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh June 4, 2010, highlighting the interests of the hill state.

“The project will benefit the nation, but will have an adverse impact on the people and environment of the state,” he said.

“Ninety percent of the power generation component of the project may be borne by the Indian government and the power generated should belong entirely to the hill state,” the chief minister said.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), the project execution agency, has completed most of the surveys and investigation works. “Some of the additional geological exploration works suggested by the Geological Survey of India are being taken up,” said the chief minister.

However, the environment appraisal committee of the ministry has already given environmental clearance to the HPPCL to start the dam construction.

The water from Renuka dam, to be built at a cost of Rs.27 billion ($561 million), will be released into the Yamuna river, from where it will flow to Haryana’s Hathinikund barrage and finally reach Delhi. It will generate 40 MW of electricity.

The project has been facing protests with affected families rejecting the compensation being offered for their lands that will be submerged by the reservoir.

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, a group of NGOs fighting for the cause of those facing rehabilitation due to development activities, said more than 700 families of 37 villages would be affected by the dam’s construction.

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