With Union ministry of environment and forest making no objection certificates from gram sabhas of the project area mandatory, plans to start construction of Renuka dam in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh from next month has been delayed. According to the latest decision, project authorities would have to seek NOCs from the gram sabhas of 19 panchayats.
There are around 25 panchayats which fall under the Renuka dam area and NOC is required from 19 of them. In the meeting held in April, the forest advisory committee (FAC) had applied this decision to projects like the 775 MW Luhri HEP (271 hectares of forest land), transmission line from Banala to Amritsar (137 hectares forest land) and Renuka dam (775 hectares forest land), whose forest clearance proposal will not be considered till the August 2009 circular is complied with. All the three projects have faced local opposition in some form or the other from affected people.
Renuka project general manager, B K Kushal, said they have yet to get a copy of the decision but were aware about the decision taken in the meeting, about fresh NOCs from gram sabhas. He said the state government last year had informed ministry of environment and forest through a letter that diversion of forest land for facilities managed by the government as required under section 3(2) of the FRA have been completed and that gram sabhas have consented to it.
Renuka dam project was conceived as a drinking water supply scheme for the national capital territory of Delhi. In the first week of March this year, a team of officials from Geological Survey of India (GSI) visited the site and gave their clearance to the project on Thursday. Besides water storage and supply of the same to Delhi, it will generate 40 MW power exclusively for use of Himachal Pradesh.
Water from Renuka dam, a national status project, will be released into 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 as it would affect 34 villages and 1,142 families of area.