There is good news for the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), the executing agency of the Renuka dam project, with the National Green Tribunal giving a green signal to the acquisition of land for the project.
Vacating an interim stay ordered by it on July 28 last year on the land acquisition for the Rs 3,600-crore Renuka dam project, the tribunal has allowed the HPPCL to consider payment of compensation to the land owners after duly examining their claims, except for cases covered under the Forest Conservation Act. It has fixed the case for final hearing on August 14.
A bench of the tribunal ruled that since the acquisition of land and even compensation had been finalised in some cases, the remaining land owners should also be provided compensation and the matter should be resolved at the earliest.
The tribunal had directed HPPCL to stop the land acquisition process under the Land Acquisition Act by passing an interim order. It had also restrained the public sector undertaking from carrying out construction activity on both non-forest and forest land and also from announcing compensation.
The petitioner, Durga Ram Sharma, a project-affected local, had challenged the environment clearance given to the dam in October 2009 before the tribunal. Subsequently, the tribunal had ordered an interim stay on acquisition.
According to a copy of the order, available on the official site of the tribunal, the counsel of the appellant had pleaded that the matter be taken up for final hearing. Hearing a petition filed by Sharma challenging the environmental clearances given to the project, the tribunal had ordered an interim stay on acquisition after Sharma's counsel argued that the environment impact assessment (EIA) report for the project was "totally inadequate and suffered from serious discrepancies".
Out of 2,239 hectares of land marked for the dam, 1,060 hectares belong to private land owners. Renuka dam deputy general manager PK Kathuria said 134 hectares of land fell under the purview of the Forest Conservation Act, and this land would not be acquired till the forest clearance from the environment ministry.
The Renuka dam management has acquired 98 hectares of private land, for which a compensation of Rs 20.6 crore has been granted.
The 40-MW dam is meant to cater to the water requirements of Delhi.