A new dam will be constructed on Tons river, a tributary of the Yamuna, on the Himachal Pradesh-Uttarakhand border to meet nearly two-thirds of Delhi’s projected additional demand for water by 2023.
The governments of the two hill states recently signed an agreement to begin work on the Rs 9,000-crore Kisau Hydropower Project – to be developed about 60 km north of Uttarakhand capital Dehradun – in the next six months. Once completed in 2023, the dam will supply 372 million gallons of water every day to Delhi – besides meeting the drinking water and irrigation needs of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
According to official estimates, Delhi’s water demand is projected to rise from the present 900 million gallons per day to 1,500 million gallons by 2023. “The national capital will be the biggest beneficiary. A huge proportion of its demand for additional drinking water will be met,” said SN Verma, managing director of the Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited – the agency in charge of commissioning the project. Water from the dam will transported to beneficiary states through the Yamuna.
Officials in the Delhi government believe the project has come as a godsend for the city. “Our summer water woes can be wiped out with this water… it will be a relief. We are, however, looking at ways to increase water production in Delhi itself. The idea is to reduce dependency on other states by saving and recycling water,” said a senior Delhi Jal Board official.
Though the project has been hanging fire for the last 12 years, the Union water resources ministry began pushing for the dam in recent months because it would address the needs of four states. Officials said it was finally clinched, with Uttarakhand accepting a key demand that it share 50% of the 660 MW of electricity generated through the project with Himachal Pradesh, and pay for the relocation of villages that get submerged. The agreement was inked on June 20, following which both the state cabinets gave their approval.
While the Centre will bear 90% of the project cost, the remaining will be shared by the two states. The Uttarakhand government is expected to seek environment clearance for the project soon.
State government officials don’t think the project will face any legal hurdles, considering that it is coming up on a tributary of the Yamuna. Proposals for setting up half-a-dozen hydro projects on the Ganga are being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Activists, however, believe the project would be an ecological disaster because it would submerge hundreds of acres of land in both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.