In a blow to a solution for Delhi’s water problems, the environment ministry on Wednesday rejected the Renuka Dam project in Himachal Pradesh, even though the same ministry had cleared it last year.
The dam could have met 25 per cent of the Capital’s water requirements, providing 275 million gallons every day.
The project was awaiting the required forest clearances, since it would require the felling of trees in a 990-hectare area. The Himachal government had applied for clearance to the ministry’s Forest Appraisal Committee (FAC) and the Prime Minister’s Office was asked to fast track the clearance.
The FAC gave its go-ahead after asking that the affected forest area be reduced to 775 hectares. But Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh refused to approve the R3,600 project.
“The government has declined to accept the recommendations of the FAC as the proposal involves high-density forest area requiring felling of a very large number of trees,” a ministry letter to the Himachal government said. Ramesh was not available for comment.
The Renuka dam in Sirmour district was to be built on a tributary of the Yamuna river, the Giri Ganga, with a storage capacity of 542 million cubic meters. It would have led to the submergence of a deer sanctuary and other wildlife habitats. Close to 1,000 families who would have been affected were opposing the project tooth and nail.