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Renuka Dam Project, HP, India

High consumption of few elites and bad management of a thirsty Delhi are drying up Himalayan rivers amidst lack of clarity and transparency by the government


The Renuka Dam project has been conceived as a drinking water supply scheme for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and envisages the construction of 148 m high rock fill dam on river Giri at Dadahu in Sirmaur district and a powerhouse at toe of the dam. While 90 per cent of the project cost will be borne by the Delhi government, Himachal Pradesh will bear 10 per cent of the cost. The project was scheduled for completion by November 2014. The project construction was stayed by the National Environment Appellate Authority/National Green Tribunal in 2010-11 due to objections on the Environment Clearance granted to the project. The project costs have shot up from ~3,572.19 crore to ~ 5,000 crore over the past few years. The origins of the project in fact go back to May 1994, when the governments of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the utilisation and allocation of the waters of the upper Yamuna River which included the Renuka storage dam to be constructed in Sirmour district of HP. The MoU says that the state agency, HP Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), will construct, operate and maintain the project while Centre will fund it. However, there is evidence that this dam had been proposed back in the '60s as a 40MW hydroelectric plant that was found not viable at that time. Later on, the purpose of supplying drinking water to the capital was added to the project proposal. As of today, the dam is being promoted as an "urgent" measure to tackle Delhi water crisis (the “urgency clause” -Section 17-4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894- was used during the land acquisition process and this way the dam authorities did away with the landholders’ right to file objections against land acquisition). Critics of the project have raised questions about the “urgency” associated with the project and its connection with Delhi’s water scarcity [1]. To justify the project, local politicians from both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been making promises about bringing much-needed development to the "backward region”. What was unmentioned was the land to be acquired by the project, be it private, common or forest land. This has become the main issue, which is still debated. The total agricultural land to be diverted for this project is 1,231 hectares belonging to 32 villages. The dam and its reservoir will submerge 909 ha of reserved forestland, including 49 ha of the Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary (RWLS) [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Renuka Dam Project, HP, India
State or province:Sirmaur District, Himachal Pradesh
Location of conflict:Dadahu
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Renuka Dam project, conceived as a drinking water supply scheme for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, envisages construction of a high rock fill dam on river Giri (Yamuna basin) at Dadahu in Sirmaur district and a powerhouse at toe of dam. The Renuka dam is planned to be 148 metres high and 430 metres wide, with an installed capacity of 40 MW. The project will ensure 45640 ha m of live water storage in its reservoir and a firm water supply to the tune of 23 cumecs to Delhi besides generating 40 MW power exclusively for use of Himachal Pradesh. The Dam will also result in generating additional power of 93.83 MU by existing 60 MW Giri HEP. Total cost of the project at December, 2006 price level is Rs. 2175.00 crore which shall be borne by Govt. of India/ Govt. of Delhi and other beneficiary states. The project is scheduled for completion by November 2014 [3]

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Project area:1,600 (land submerged)
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectINR 5,000 crores (more or less USD 800,000,000)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:337 families [3]
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) from India
Patel Engineering from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Himachal Pradesh, Government of Delhi, National Green Tribunal, Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), Himachal Pradesh High Court, Land Acquisition Officer, Supreme Court, Environmental Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Renuka Dam Sangarsh Samiti
Himalaya Niti Abhiyan
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Ministry of Environment gave clearance for the diversion of forestland and the Environmental clearance is challenged at the NGT.
Proposal and development of alternatives:For improving water supply system in Delhi: repair and improve conditions of water pipes in Delhi, reduce consumption, apply a fairer distribution.
At local level at Renuka: mobilizers agree they don't need the dam for local economy and want to protect their fertile fields and fisheries in the river.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The Ministry of Forest and Environment gave clearance in March 2015 for the diversion of forestland and the Environmental clearance is challenged is at the National Green Tribunal. The court has stayed the construction of the project in the meanwhile.
However, besides legal procedures and tools to challenge the dam project, the questions of whether the Renuka Dam is the only answer to Delhi’s water crisis and what are the underlying causes of a water crisis in Delhi remain unaddressed.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Forest Rights Act, 2006
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[click to view]

Site inspection report
[click to view]

[1] Manshi Asher, "Renuka Dam. The Saga Continues", EPW august 11, 2012 vol xlviI no 32
[click to view]

[2] Green Tribunal clears way for Renuka dam, partially
[click to view]

[3] HPPCL webpage
[click to view]

[4] The Tribune - Renuka Dam project gets MoEF approva
[click to view]

[5] India Together - S. Dharmadhikary, Drowning Himachalis, pampering Delhi
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Renuka dam project faces delay
[click to view]

India Environment Portal
[click to view]

Himdhara - A Himalayan Sell Out
[click to view]

Tehelka - Manshi Asher, Himachal Pradesh Government Flunks Forest Rights Subject
[click to view]

Memorandum: Scrap Renuka dam project - 2009
[click to view]

Letter from SANDRP and Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan to Aam Admi Party (at Delhi government in 2013) on water politics in Delhi
[click to view]

Letter To Delhi CM on Renuka Dam And Delhi Water Issues, by scientists and activists, June 2010
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Renukaji Dilli Ke Nalon Mein - A documentary about the movement against the proposed Renukaji Dam Project
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh, India ( and Daniela Del Bene, ICTA - UAB (
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1238
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