'Renuka Dam not to get forest clearance'



New Delhi/Shimla (Nov 24): In yet another interesting development that may alter the fate of Renumber Dam, Union minster for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh is said to have assured activists sitting on dharna at Jantar Manter in Delhi that the project will not get forest clearance from is ministry. This was claimed by Guman Singh, coordinator of Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, who was part of the delegation that met the minister to submit a memorandum opposing Land Acquisition Amendment Bill and R&R Bill.

Meanwhile, there are also unconfirmed reports that Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation (HPPCL) has decided to offer equity stake to affected people in the 40 MW Renuka Dam hydroelectric power poject. The development, however, goes contrary to the stand taken by Chief Minster Prem Kumar Dhumal warning Delhi not to expect any help from Himachal in completion of Renuka Dam project.

The memorandum submitted by Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti opposing construction of the dam mentioned that the project would submerge more than 1.5 million green trees and will be an ecological disaster. The project will also displace over 1100 families. Yogender Kapila, convener of the Renuka Bandh Jan Sangharsh Samiti and secretary Puran Chand were also in the deputation and raised the issue of land acquisition and demanded the withdrawal of the urgency clause and stall the process of acquisition proceeding. “Jairam Ramesh categorically denied any possibility of commissioning this dam and said that Renuka Dam project cannot get forest clearance because of dense forest cover,” Guman Singh said. He demanded that a public hearing for forest rights must be conducted before forest clearance and diversion of forest land to any project and facilities.

Lal Chand Katoch, president of Jal Jangal Zamin Bachao Andolan Kullu opposed the construction of micro hydel on Haripur Nala, “which is damaging forests and will affect irrigation and drinking water schemes of three pPanchayats’. “Small hydel projects must also get environment clearance and public hearings conducted to get consent of local population. These small projects are exempted from environment clearance and public consent,” he said.

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