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Koel-Karo project, India


The proposed Koel-Karo project was first proposed in 1957 under the second Five Year Plan. The final project report was completed in 1973, and initially the total cost was estimated to be Rs 137 crore. According to the project report, two dams were to be constructed — at Basia on the South Koel River and at Lohajimi on the North Karo River. The two dams were to be connected by a 34.7km canal. To facilitate power generation, permission was given for the construction of four large power houses and two smaller ones, capable of generating 710MW daily. The project, covering Ranchi, Gumla and Singhbhum districts, was to utilise water from South Koel and North Karo rivers. The project became a non-starter following opposition from tribals who feared large-scale social and cultural displacement. The project was formally shelved in 2003 following intense protests by the local population.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Koel-Karo project, India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Basia, Lohajimi
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The initial cost of the project was estimated to be Rs 137 crore in 1973. In 1980, the project was handed over to the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation. In 1981, the estimated cost of the project was revised to Rs 200 crore. In 1991, the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs revised the cost estimate to Rs 1338.8 crore.

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Project area:22000
Level of Investment:241000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:150000
Start of the conflict:1974
Company names or state enterprises:Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) from India
Bihar State Electricity Board from India
Relevant government actors:National Hydroelectric Power Corporation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Koel-Karo Janasangathan, Jan Sangharsha Samiti
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Jharkhand State Electricity Board is planning a fresh project report for Koel-Karo. Instead of the original plan of generating 710MW, the board is in favour of scaling down generating capacity to 300 to 400MW. Since power generation from Koel-Karo would be scaled down, the height of the dams would also be scaled down. A reduced dam height would ensure minimum submergence of catchment areas, much less than what was originally envisaged.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(in attachment)

PUCL Bulletin, September 2002
[click to view]

an empirical study of the resistance movement of the Adivasi in Jharkhand / India
[click to view]

The Koel Karo Hydel Project –

The adivasi struggle for land rights at Koel-Karo



(see attachment)

India Environmental Portal
[click to view]

[click to view]

Koel-Karo project on revival path
[click to view]

[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

We Will Give Our Life But Not Our Land
[click to view]

Other comments:The total amount of investment of US$ 241,000,000 refers to year 1991.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has said under no circumstances would the party allow the implementation of the ambitious Koel-Karo Hydel Power Project in Torpa and Tamar areas of Jharkhand
Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar patra
Last update18/08/2019
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