The project, meant to quench the thirst of Delhi residents, is awaiting environment clearance from the environment ministry but the Budget has already allocated funds for construction of the dam. The environment ministry will discuss the case next week, in its forest advisory committee meeting.
“To solve the long-term water supply issues to the capital region, the construction of the long-pending Renuka dam would be taken up on priority. I have provided an initial sum of Rs 50 crore for this,” Jaitley said.
The ambitious Rs 3,600-crore project is aimed at providing 275 million gallons of water to Delhi every day. The dam is proposed to be built on the Giri river, a tributary of the Yamuna in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh.
Under the United Progressive Alliance government, the project was mired in controversy, with then-environment minister Jairam Ramesh denying it a forest clearance. Ramesh overrode the forest advisory committee's grant of recommendation in October 2010. The national capital should first fix its water distribution losses of about 45 per cent, he had said, adding, “Delhi must learn to use the tougher options that are available. It cannot be a parasite on the rest of the country."
At that time, the Delhi government, under chief minister Sheila Dikshit, had pressed the Centre for a reversal of the environment ministry's order.