Shimla: Fresh from having stalled the environment clearance to a new cement plant, green activists have approached the Himachal High Court to stay underway land acquisition for Renuka Dam, a project that has been planned mainly for meeting the water needs of Delhi.
Manshi Asher, from Him Dhara, Environment Research and Action Collective said, “several organization including Renuka Bandh Sangharsh Samiti have in a letter to the Chief Justice asked for staying of the land acquisition process as there was uncertainty prevailing about the project.”
She said that the project did not have forest clearance over private forest lands which were being acquired.
Pointing out ministry of environment and forestry (MOEF) having declined forest clearance for diversion of 775 hectares of forest lands for the project on 31 August, 2010, the organizations in the letter state that the project authorities were going ahead with land acquisition for the Renuka Dam project.
“The entire process of forest clearances for the project has been reduced to a mere formality and the instrument of Land Acquisition Act 1894 is being used for forced acquisition despite uncertainties surrounding the project,” said Asher.
Meanwhile, HP Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), a government company executing the Renuka Dam project which has been declared a national project, has issued a notification for acquiring 680 bighas (57 hectares) of private land at Panaar village in Sirmaur district.
The government undertaking has already acquired 445 bighas (37 hectares) in Dungi Kandaun village for constructing the dam for creating the projects reservoir.
While member of Renuka Bandh Sangarsh Samiti claimed that about 60 members filed objections against the land acquisition proceedings, the company officials maintained that the people were willingly selling land for the project’s requirements.
Declared a national project that is being mainly funded by the central government, the dam would be instrumental in storing water and diverting it to the national capital region for meeting its present and future water needs.