Villagers protest in Delhi against dam
Shimla (Nov 22): Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has asked Himachal Pradesh government to refurnish correct detail of trees to be felled to seek environment clearance for the Rs 3,600-crore Renuka Dam, renamed as Parshsu Ram Project.
The ministry’s August-31 communication said: “The recommendations of the forest advisory committee were placed for approval before the ministry, which has declined to accept them as the proposal involves high-density forest and requires the felling of a very large number of trees.” According to general manger of Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited KK Goel, the dam management has proposed to acquire 2,100 hectare forest land, having 1,000 hectare private land, to built the dam in 24 kilometer areas.
He said that in its first report MOE&F was asked to allow felling of 1.50 lakh trees in the catchment area of Renuka wildlife sanctuary, which has been rejected by the ministry, which has now sought revised report by recounting the correct number of trees to be removed from the dam site. Goel said HPPCL is now trying to reduce the forest area to be acquire for the project by four meters in its breadth.
Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, a pro-environment NGO lead by Gumman Singh, alleged that as many as 3.50 lakh trees would be axed from the sanctuary as HPPCL was not properly counting the number of trees to be felled.. He claimed that HPPCL mislead MOE&F as it did not even count more than two lakh trees to be felled for the project. “Moreover, lakhs of trees that have attained an age of five years have been deliberately ignored in the first proposal, which was outrightly rejected by the ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, around 100 villagers from Himachal Pradesh began a two-day protest in New Delhi today against construction of Renuka Dam. “Our only demand is scrapping of the project, which is not only affecting our livelihood but also the environment,” said Puran Chand, secretary of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti.