Thirsty Delhi gets dam bill

Shimla, Jan. 31: The Himachal government has asked Delhi to bear a part of the cost of the Renuka dam project on a tributary of the Yamuna if the capital wanted to solve its drinking water problem.

The dam, conceived in the sixties before the governments of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan signed an MoU in 1994, is expected to supply 23 cumec (cubic metre per second) of water every day to Delhi, the Rs 3,500-crore project's main beneficiary.

The Union government will bear 90 per cent of the cost as the dam on the Giri, a tributary of the Yamuna, has been declared a national project.

"We have asked the Delhi government to bear the remaining 10 per cent as Delhi will be a major beneficiary state. The state (Himachal) government has already refused to bear (a part of) the cost," said B.K. Kaushal, general manager, Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), the company in charge of executing the project.

HPPCL officials had recently met their Delhi counterparts to convey the state government's decision. Sources said the Delhi government had agreed in principle to bear the 10 per cent, or Rs 350 crore at current rates. The authorities have already started acquiring land and sources said work was likely to begin in July once the forest clearance comes through.

The drinking water project in Sirmaur district got environment clearance in 2009, but is yet to receive forest clearance. Some 49 hectares of the Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary are expected to be submerged by the backwaters of the dam.

"We have sent the case to the forest department, which will forward it to the ministry of environment and forests. We expect to get the forest clearance by June end, only then the construction will begin," Kaushal said.

Local residents and an NGO have objected to the project as over 750 families are likely to be displaced.

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