A re-assessment vis-à-vis number of trees to be submerged by a 24-km long reservoir of a dam project in Himachal Pradesh --- envisaged to augment Delhi's drinking water needs --- has raised Delhi Jal Board's hopes that were dashed by environment ministry in 2010.
The ministry of environment and forest had rejected the proposal in August 2010, on the premise that several trees standing on 775 hectares of good quality forestland would be submerged by the Renuka dam project.
The proposed project, planned on river Giri, a tributary of Yamuna, in Himachal Pradesh envisages a storage capacity of 542 million cubic metres and an installed capacity of 40 MW power.
The project is to provide Delhi 437 million gallons per day (MGD), a little less than half of Delhi's current requirement of 900 MGD.
Himachal Pradesh is in the process of re-assessing the number of trees that would be submerged and plans to submit the proposal again.
Said Ramesh Negi, DJB CEO, "We are sure with lesser number of trees going under water, the (environment) ministry would clear the project."
However, experts are not game with the explanation.
imanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network of Dams, River and People, pointed out: "To start with, the earlier assessment given to the ministry was an understated number. The environmental impact assessment did not, at all, mention shyamlat (community land) in submergence area so the actual number of trees that would be submerged is much higher."
According to Thakkar, unless the trees in the community land are considered, the reviewed number will still be less than the actual number.
The project was declared as a national project and the Centre already gave R4,000 crore to the project authority. All Yamuna basin riparian states claim a stake in power and water share.
Calling it as a “vital project” to augment Delhi’s water needs, Negi said: “Now that it is declared as a national project, it is for the Ministry of Water Resources to decide about the water and power share."