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Forest clearance expires again, Renuka Dam project in limbo

Forest clearance expires again, Renuka Dam project in limbo

Renukaji multi-purpose dam will be built on river Giri at Dadahu in Sirmaur.



Tribune News Service

Ambika Sharma

Solan, April 18

The environmental clearance of the nationally significant Renukaji Dam project in Sirmaur district expired on March 12, less than three months after its foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The in-principle approval for forest clearance (FC), which was valid for 10 years, was accorded to this project on October 23, 2009. Its validity was extended for two years till March 12, 2022.

About the project

  • The project includes 148-m-high rock filled dam to be built on the Giri in Sirmaur, having water storage of 498 million cubic mn
  • It will generate 40 MW power for the state
  • Six states of Upper Yamuna basin, namely Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan besides Himachal Pradesh have stakes in the project

This multi-purpose project was conceived as a drinking water supply scheme for the National Capital Region of Delhi. It envisages construction of 148 m high rock fill dam on river Giri at Dadahu in Sirmaur district and a powerhouse. The project work, however, could not be initiated even after two extensions of FC as the stage-III final clearance was pending due to non-deposit of requisite Rs 586.39 crore in the state Compulsory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority account.

This is compulsory in cases where forest land is diverted for non-forestry purposes to compensate the loss of biodiversity.

Six states of Upper Yamuna basin, namely Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan besides Himachal Pradesh have stakes in the project.

The project, which was being executed by the HP Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL), has, however, secured all other statutory clearances by various ministries but paucity of funds was acting as a major impediment in its execution.

“After receipt of funds for State-II clearance, the HPPCL will submit the project for final forest clearance before the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change,” informed a project official.

Since the project has already been delayed by more than a decade and a half, the project authorities have now sought exemption from the tedious process of conducting fresh social impact assessment for seeking forest clearance.

Relaxation has been sought from a fresh public hearing. Since the baseline data of social impact assessment study was already collected earlier, the dam authorities assert that it would help reduce the period of study and help in speedier forest clearance rather than undertaking a fresh study.

The Environment Impact Assessment was conducted in 2007 while its public hearing was conducted on October 21, 2008.

Conservator Forest, Sirmaur, Sarita Divedi confirmed that fresh FCA clearance was being sought by the authorities after two extensions expired on March 12.

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