New Delhi, February 2
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today set up an eight-member experts’ panel to study various aspects of the proposed Rs 5,242 crore Renuka Dam. It will give its suggestions within four months for the construction of the national project without damaging the environment.
A 4-member Bench of the tribunal, headed by its Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, said the panel would be headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, HP, and would include representatives from the Union Environment and Forest Ministry, the Central Water Commission, Chief Irrigation Engineers of HP and Delhi and the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
The committee should specifically report whether there was a comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation policy in place and any modification was required to protect the environment and ecology of the region, including the river, hydrology and the Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary, the NGT said in the 50-page judgment, written for the Bench by Justice MS Nambiar.
The committee had been asked to examine nine aspects, including the conditions that should be imposed on the project proponent to minimise the adverse impact on the forest land and the wildlife habitat. It would also decide if the environmental clearance given on October 20, 2009, was vitiated.
The NGT noted that the Supreme Court had already acknowledged that the project was of “national importance” as it would provide drinking water to Delhi and areas of Haryana and UP falling in the National Capital Region (NCR) such as Faridabad and Noida.
The project will come up across the Giri river, a tributary of the Yamuna, in Sirmaur district.
Arguing for HP, senior advocate JS Attri had pleaded for expediting the construction of the dam, declared as a national project by the Centre in 2009.
Attri said the state had spent about Rs 270 crore – Rs 166 crore for acquiring land, Rs 29 crore for relocation and rehabilitation of the project oustees and Rs 25.5 crore on survey and related work, besides incurring overhead expenses of Rs 48 crore.
Of this, Rs 214.84 crore had been paid by the Delhi Jal Board since the dam was primarily meant for providing water to the national capital as per its entitlement and Rs 25 crore by Haryana, a riparian state of the Yamuna. The Centre will have to meet 90 per cent of the expenditure.
HP also has a stake in the project as it will get 40 mw of electricity from the project free of cost.
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