Kol Dam Hydropower Project, HP, India

After investing in fossil fuels for decades, the Indian public company NTPC explores the hydro sector; its first hydel project raise protests, floods pilgrimage site and threatens a wildlife santuary. But it also faces fincancial distress.


The Koldam Dam Hydropower Project is an embankment dam on the Sutlej River near Barmana on the Chandigarh-Manali Highway ( NH-21) and the border of Bilaspur district and Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh, India. The total capacity of the project is 800 MW, and, when operational, the HEPP is expected to generate approximately 3,054GWh of electricity per annum. The host state Himachal Pradesh is entitled to receive 15% of the generated power free of cost and a further 12% at bus-bar rate.

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Basic Data
NameKol Dam Hydropower Project, HP, India
ProvinceHimachal Pradesh
SiteBarmana on the Chandigarh-Manali Highway ( NH-21 ) and the border of Bilaspur district and Mandi district
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 CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsTotal capacity is 800MW (4x200 MW).

According to Times of India, "The first hydro power project of NTPC would start generating power by 2014-15, providing much needed peaking capacity to northern grid by annually generating 3054 GWh electricity at 90% dependable year basis."

And also " The catchment area of dam would be around 42 km. The cost of Kol dam project at December 2001 price level (excluding interest during construction) was Rs 4527.15 crore."[3]

The project will comprise a 167m tall rock and gravel fill clay core dam with a crest length of 474m and a chute-type spillway with six 17.1m wide and 17.74m radial gates situated to the left of the dam. It will further comprise a surface-type 135m x 42m x 48m powerhouse containing four vertical Francis-type 200MW turbines to be operated with 144m hydraulic head, an open-type tailrace channel 100m in length and a surface/conventional-type switchyard.

The reservoir created by the dam can hold up to 560 million cubic metres of water. [6]

Transmission lines are being constructed by Reliance Infrastructure Limited and Parbati Koldam Transmission Company Limited.
Level of Investment (in USD)aprox 842,400,000 USD (5,400 crores INR)
Type of PopulationRural
Company Names or State EnterprisesNational Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India
Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (Italthai) from Thailand - Contractor for “Main Civil Works Package I : Dam, Spillway & Power Intake Package
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) from India - http://www.indiainfoline.com/article/news-top-story/bhel-adds-736-mw-hydro-electric-capacity-in-2014-15-115052500094_1.html
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPunjab, Himachal Pradesh Resettled and Affected Samiti
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Informal workers
Recreational users
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Local villagers have raised the issue of inadequate sum of compensation promised to the affected families [15]
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherKol Dam Threatens The Cheer Pheasant
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Land dispossession
OtherSubmergence of sacred hotsprings
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesAfter construction of the dam, as land cost and standard of living has gone up and the villages are like urban areas, local villagers demand that the initial compensation agreement should be revised; they also demand a rain-shelter at Nehar village, payment of one percent of revenue in cash, employment to local youths and better condition of roads and supply of electricity. Such demands are also reported in the PESE report, commissioned by the state government.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Sources and Materials

[5] The Uttarkhand Apocalypse: is Himachal next?
[click to view]

[1] NDTV - NTPC's First Hydropower Project Starts in Himachal
[click to view]

[2] NTPC Hydro
[click to view]

[3] Times of India
[click to view]

[4] The Tribune - NTPC set to commission 800-MW Kol Dam project
[click to view]

Italthai webpage onn the Koldam
[click to view]

Koldam Project of NTPC suffers major setback in Himachal
[click to view]

[6] Power-Technology.com
[click to view]

[8] Hindustan Times - NTPC Kol dam hydel projectall set to produce 800 MW
[click to view]

[9] The OK Travel - Kol Dam threatening to engulf Tattapani hot springs by April 2013
[click to view]

[11] Business Standard - Himachal to restore hot water springs
[click to view]

[10] Tribune India - Indo-Norwegian team inspects hot water springs

Says Tatta Pani, Manikaran, Vashisht can be developed as geothermal tourist destinations
[click to view]

[12] The Hill Post, by RAVINDER MAKHAIK - Himachal Environmentalists Oppose Submergence of Sanctuary In Kol Dam Reservoir, NOVEMBER 30, 2010
[click to view]

Kol Dam Threatens The Cheer Pheasant
[click to view]

[13] Kol Dam project to be opened soon
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BLOG: Kol Dam oustees threaten indefinite fast
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[14] Protest at Kol Dam site intensifies, Oustees demand job for each member of family or 25 lakh as compensation
[click to view]

Daily Post - Farmers up against irregularities in Kol Dam transmission line, Jan 2016
[click to view]

[15] The Tribune - Plunge pool of Kol Dam damaged, Nov 1015
[click to view]

Media Links

Tattapani (Hot Springs) India "Donn't Let it Die" - Dr Ritesh Arya
[click to view]

Presentation by NTPC - Kol Dam Hydro-Electric Project Diversion of 124.054 ha of Forest land of Majathal Wildlife Sanctuary
[click to view]

[15] Panel of Environmental and Social Experts (PESE) report
[click to view]

Other Documents

Makar Sankranti Festival, Tattapani Source: http://theoktravel.com/kol-dam-threatening-to-engulf-tattapani-hot-springs-by-april-2013/915/
[click to view]

The spill way of the Kol Dam with both sides of plunge pool damaged. Source: Photo by Mahesh Chander Sharma, http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/community/plunge-pool-of-kol-dam-damaged/153257.html
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorDaniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB (d.delbene-at-gmail.com)
Last update15/01/2016