Tribune News Service
Shimla, March 2
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has finally given clearance for the diversion of 909 hectare forestland which was the biggest hurdle in the way of the 40-mw Renuka Hydro-Power Project in Sirmaur. With this, the project will meet the drinking water requirement of the national capital.
The approval, which was granted by The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests last week, has been conveyed to the state government. Even though an appeal was pending before the National Green Tribunal against the coming up of the project, forest clearance for the diversion of forestland which has 1,41,944 trees would help expedite the project.
It was on August 26, 2014, that the Himachal Government had sought permission to divert forestland for the project.
In fact, state Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania has written a letter to Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to get the matter expedited and is expected to meet her in Delhi later this week.
“The forest clearance for the diversion of 909 hectares has been received and this will hopefully help us in expediting the case pending before the NGT,” said DK Sharma, Managing Director, Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL). HPPCL will execute the project.
“We have already paid Rs 144 crore as compensation to those whose land has been acquired out of the Rs 200 crore given by the Delhi government. We have sought Rs 1,983.35 crore from the central government so the huge amount required for the relief and rehabilitation of villagers can be displaced,” he said.
While the 90 per cent of the project cost will be borne by the Delhi government, Himachal Pradesh will bear the 10 per cent of the cost.
In fact, according to the approval in principle given by the Union Environment Ministry, directions have been given for mandatory compensatory afforestation on 1,878 hectare land, designated sites to be identified for dumping debris, no damage to flora and fauna, provision of fish ladder both at Renuka Dam and at Dadahu barrage.
The cost of trees alone has been worked out at Rs 30.50 crore and the net present value (NPV) of the land will be about Rs 79.82 crore.
The cost of the project, which was conceived almost three decades ago, has shot up to almost Rs 4,000 crore.
It has been delayed for one or the other reason including the huge tree count that will be submerged under the dam waters.
The project will generate merely 40-mw power, but more importantly it will provide more than 1,000 million litre water to Delhi every day.
The environmentalists and locals have been up in arms against the project as 337 families will be displaced due to the coming up of the project and the local flora and fauna could be adversely impacted.
A comprehensive Environment Management Plan for the protection and conservation of Renuka Wild Life sanctuary will also be prepared.
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