Villagers challenge Renuka land order | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Villagers challenge Renuka land order

The National Green Tribunal’s stay on land acquisition for a proposed dam, which is expected to meet almost 25% of Delhi’s water requirements, has been challenged by villagers from Himachal Pradesh, where the project is based. Nivedita Khandekar reports.

delhi Updated: Mar 16, 2012 01:24 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

The National Green Tribunal’s stay on land acquisition for a proposed dam, which is expected to meet almost 25% of Delhi’s water requirements, has been challenged by villagers from Himachal Pradesh, where the project is based.

The Renuka dam, coming up on the Giri river in Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur, is yet to get a forest clearance. According to the villagers, while a lack of clearance may hobble construction of the dam, it should not prevent land acquisition.

“Eight villages have been paid around Rs 20 crore for 1,300 bighas. We are, however, losing out on compensation. Why should others suffer because of the stay,” asked MP Singh, the lawyer representing the four villagers.

Ritwick Dutta, who represents the villager who had challenged the land acquisition, asked for more time to verify information submitted by the four villagers.

After clearance had been denied to the original proposal, a reworked version was prepared and submitted to the Forest Advisory Committee.

Delhi is banking heavily on the project. “All proposed projects of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) hinge on the availability of water. So, if the project does not materialise, DDA’s plans will be hampered. The ministry of urban development has a stake too,” said Ramesh Negi, the chief executive of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).

But environmentalists have questioned the urgency in acquiring land.

“An SC order says that if a project requires both forest and non-forest land, no construction can begin till it has forest clearance,” said Himanshu Thakkar, of the South Asia Network of Dams, River and People.