Having been denied the 7.19 per cent share it had sought in the Bhakra power project for nearly 45 years,Himachal Pradesh seems to have learnt from the bitter experience,with the state government now hardening its stance on the Rs 3,600 crore Renuka dam – a project that will supply drinking water to Delhi and the National Capital Region.
Even as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put the project on hold after affected families and NGOs raised environmental concerns,the Himachal Pradesh government has shot off a letter to the Centre asking for a policy change to protect the interests of the hill state.
The state has suggested that entire capital cost of water and storage projects – including the power component of 40 MW should be eligible for 90 per cent central funding. Since this being a project of national importance designed to tap drinking water from Himachals rivers and streams,the states interests should be adequately safeguarded, Principal Secretary (power) Deepak Sanan told The Indian Express here.
Together with this demand,Himachal Pradesh has also raised the issue of benefit sharing on the lines of hydro-power projects. A provision of 13 per cent of the annual cost of delivering the enhanced quantity of water to the plains (Delhi) should be transferred to hill state hosting the water storage project as a form of benefit sharing to compensate for the human and environmental cost of the project,Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal wrote to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal last month.
The chief minister had written to the Prime Minister recently seeking his intervention to reach a consensus with the co-basin states and has made it clear that it will be difficult to commence construction of the project without resolution of the issues raised by Himachal Pradesh,Sanan said.
Though the Centre hasnt responded to the demand so far,sources in the power department claim that after locals residents vehemently opposed the project,the government has chosen to stand by the affected families – a lesson it has learnt from the Bhakra project.
It was only last year that the Supreme Court finally acknowledged Himachals share of 7.19 per cent in the BBMB projects ,a demand the state has been raising since 1967.
During the Assemblys last session, Harsh Wardhan Chauhan,Congress MLA from Sirmaur district- where Renuka dam will be located – had raised the issue in the House to which the government admitted that efforts were already under way to ensure that the rights of the project affected families are protected along with the state receiving its legitimate cost benefits .
The project envisages the construction of a 148 metre high rock fill dam on the Giri river at Dadahu to supply drinking water to Delhi and generate 40 MW of power. A MoU for the project was signed in May 1994 between the states of Himachal Pradesh,Uttar Pradesh ( earlier undivided),Haryana and Rajasthan.
The Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation,a fully owned agency of the state government has been assigned the task of executing the project. The Corporation has already spent Rs 104.43 crore so far.