Caught-up in delays due to its long term environmental impact and displacement issues of nearly 35 villages, the multipurpose Renuka dam project which was designed to provide surplus water to Delhi and NCR, has finally got a go ahead.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who returned Dharamshala after attending BJP CMs conclave at Varanasi said the union cabinet has accorded its approval to the project.
The project has been estimated to cost Rs 6946.99 crore and 90 per cent of the total expenditure will be borne by the center.
The project envisages building of a 148 meter high rock fill storage dam on Giri River, a tributary of River Yamuna in Sirmaur of Himachal Pradesh drawing unused and excess monsoon discharge encompassing an area of 24 km.
The project which has already earned the title of the “project of National importance” is likely to either totally displace 800 families in 35 villages or affect them partially.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit Himachal's Mandi on December 27 to celebrate Jai Ram Thakur government's completion of four years in power. PM Modi is expected to launch a slew of development projects in the state ahead of next year’s assembly poll.
As per the DPR prepared in 2015, the initial cost of the Renuka Dam project was estimated to be Rs 4596.76 crore. However due to non-signing of Interstate Agreement between beneficiary states, the project could not be taken forward.
“After vigorous pursuance by Government of India (GoI) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ,an Interstate agreement was signed amongst six beneficiary States viz. Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in 2019” CM Jai Ram Thakur recalled.
As per the norms of the National Project scheme, 90% cost for the portion of water component is to be provided by Government of India and rest 10% cost is to be shared by all basin states according to the ratio of allocation of water.
"The live storage of the dam would be 498 million cubic meters which would be used for supplying drinking water at 23 cubic meters per second to National Capital Territory of Delhi" Himachal CM said.
It will also generate 200 million units of energy in a surface power house with 40 MW installed capacity which would be utilized by the State Government, he added.
Jai Ram Thakur said that the construction of the project was expected to start by December, 2022 and would be completed in six years.
He said that CAT plan works with total outlay of Rs 160.34 crore would be done to improve the health of catchment. After commissioning, one percent of annual revenue would be distributed in affected areas every year.
But the environmentalists have raised serious concerns over the ecological impact and serious blow to the Himalayan biodiversity as the district of Sirmaur is an ecologically fragile region bordering Uttarakhand and Haryana.
The center is reported to have already released Rs.457.57 crore for the project as enhanced compensation for land acquisition.
The project had faced opposition from the families ,who will be displaced due to submergence and other infrastructure building activities,apart from environmental activists .