Himachal dam to quench Delhi's thirst faces fund crisis.. Image Source: IANS News

Shimla, Aug 30 : After facing multiple legal battles mainly citing environmental and rehabilitation concerns, a proposed dam project in Himachal Pradesh that also aims to provide drinking water for the national capital has now been experiencing paucity of funds to initiate construction, officials said on Sunday.

The 40-MW Renukaji multipurpose project in Sirmaur district is awaiting approval from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Central government, an official told IANS.

He said with this approval the flow of funds from the government of India would start.

The over Rs 7,000 crore project, to be constructed on a tributary of the Yamuna river, is meant to supply 23 cumecs of water to Delhi and also generate 40 MW of electricity for Himachal Pradesh.

The project has hit roadblocks repeatedly since an initial agreement was signed in 1994 that water from the Renuka dam would be supplied to Delhi.

The national status project is located some 250 km from Delhi.

In January 2019, six northern states -- Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Delhi -- signed a memorandum of understanding to construct a dam that will provide water to the national capital and other beneficiary states.

As the pact, the 90 per cent cost of irrigation and drinking water component of the project, i.e. Rs 3,892.83 crore will be provided by the Central government and rest 10 per cent by the six states.

Officials told IANS that Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya last month reviewed the progress of the project.

After taking stock of the situation, he requested the Centre to expedite the process of granting investment clearance so that the project gets approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the construction activities could start.

In a letter written to Minister for Water Resources Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Governor said all technical clearances have been obtained.

He said statutory clearances i.e. environmental, forest clearance (Stage I), etc., have also been obtained.

Only the forest clearance (Stage II) is left, which would be obtained after release of funds from the government of India and subsequent deposition of Rs 577.62 crore in the state Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) account, he said.

Officials said the 148 m high rock filled dam on the Giri river near Dadahu will ensure water storage in its reservoir and a firm water supply to the tune of 23 cumecs to Delhi.

Dattatraya was categorically clear in saying that only after the CCEA approval, the flow of funds from the government of India would start and all the submissions needed for these approvals stand completed by the state government.

The state government, he said, has to pay to the landowners the enhanced land compensation as per the decisions given by the various reference and appellate courts.

This would be possible only when funds start coming from the Centre and in the absence of such funds the state is facing difficult situations in these courts, he added.

Officials told IANS that a large number of people in the state would be affected by the construction of the dam.

Project-affected villagers gathered under the banner of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti claim that more than 700 families from 37 villages will be affected.

Officials said with the construction of the dam the flow of the Giri river would increase by about 110 per cent. That will meet the drinking water needs of the beneficiary states.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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