NTPC Limited's foray into hydro-power generation — the 800-MW Kol Dam project in Himachal Pradesh — has run into hurdle with the Environment Ministry refusing to give it clearance in its present form.

The State government, along with the NTPC, submitted diversion of 124.054 hectares of forest land from the Majathal Wildlife Sanctuary for the ongoing project. The power company had spent nearly Rs. 600 crore on construction work and the dam site in Bilaspur district. The project is already running behind schedule.

At a recent meeting, the Standing Committee on National Wildlife Board took the view that not only around 51,262 trees would be submerged due to the construction and storage facility, but the project would also endanger the Sanctuary, home to the endangered Cheer pheasant.

“After deliberations, and in view of the submission made by the State to the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court regarding the large number trees coming under submergence, the panel unanimously decided to reject the proposal in its present form. The State government and the NTPC could be asked to come out with a modified proposal for reconsideration,” officials said.

This is not the first project of the Himachal Pradesh government that has run into trouble with the Environment Ministry.

In August, the Ministry rejected a request for diversion of forest land for the proposed Renuka Dam project in Sirmour district. The decision was taken because it was feared that there would be large scale deforestation of almost 775 hectares of forest land.

The Ministry also rejected the setting up of a cement plant by multinational company Lafarge in Mandi district of the State a few months ago.