The ambitious Rs 3,600-crore Renuka Dam project in Sirmaur district, which aims at quenching the thirst of Delhi, has crossed a major hurdle with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) giving a go-ahead to HPPCL to award compensation to those whose land has been acquired for it, a project official said today.

The principal bench of NGT, a judicial body for hearing environment-related cases, on Tuesday vacated its interim stay for awarding compensation in lieu of acquisition of private land for the project, to be constructed on a tributary of the Yamuna River in Sirmaur district, some 250 km from Delhi.

However, the tribunal did not vacate its stay on land covered under the Forest Conservation Act and listed the matter for final hearing on August 14.

The General Manager of the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd, a public sector undertaking executing the project, Mr B.K Kaushal said, “We have been allowed to award land compensation worth Rs 200 crore“.

The Bench headed by Justice Mr C.V. Ramalu said, “Since land acquisition was finalised in respect of some land owners and compensation was paid, we think it is desirable that other similarly placed persons should also get compensation.”

“The counsel for the appellant, however, stated that land in question was probably covered under Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.

“Under these circumstances, we direct the land acquisition officer to consider payment of compensation after finalising of award in respect of lands of the true owners, who are the owners of the said land, wherever it does not attract the provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act,” the Bench also comprising Mr D.K Agrawal, an expert, said.

The Renuka Dam project, on completion, envisaged supply of 275 million gallons of water per day to Delhi and also generate 40 MW of electricity for Himachal.