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Subernarekha Multipurpose project (Chandil Dam), Jharkhand, India


The Chandil dam is a part of Subernarekha Multipurpose project. It has been constructed on the river Subernarekha near a small town called Chandil in Jharkhand state of India. The project is a tripartite initiative among the three eastern states, Jharkhand (earlier Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa). The dam is about 720.10 meter long (of which earth part is of 300.10 meter long and the concrete part is of 420 meters long) and 56.5 meter height. The dam has a total storage capacity of 1963 hm3 [1]. The project’s main dam is located at Chandil and another reservoir is located at Icha, while two more barrages at Gauldih and Kharkai. The aim of this project is not only for irrigation for these three states but also for electricity generation [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Subernarekha Multipurpose project (Chandil Dam), Jharkhand, India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Town - Chandil; District - Seraikela Kharsawan
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Subernarekha Multipurpose project spanned along the three states i.e Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. The major dam of the Subernarekha Multipurpose project is located at Chandil in Seraikela Kharsawan districts of Jharkhand. The Chandil dam has storage capacity of 1963 hm3 and live storage of 1611 hm3 at MWL/FRL 192 m. The storage includes flood storage of 463 hm3 to benefit Orissa and West Bengal [1].

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Project area:17603
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,123,225,136 (Rs 6,613 crore)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:60,000 (12,000 families)
Start of the conflict:01/01/1978
Company names or state enterprises:Subernarekha Multipurpose Project
Relevant government actors:Government of Jharkhand, Government of West Bengal, Government of Orissa, Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest (GoI - Government of India), Planing Commission (GoI)
International and Finance InstitutionsNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) from India - Sanctioned a loan of Rs 118 crore for the construction of the project
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America - Initially sanctioned $127mn, but the funding was later withdrawn following the protest by the locals
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Visthapit Mukti Vahini’s (VMV’s), Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiatives, Adivasi Visaph Sangh, Janta Dal(U) (Political Party), All Jharkhand Students Union (Political Party)
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
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Since 1987, the organization Visthapit Mukti Vahini has been struggling for adequate compensation for the displaced [5].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Following the protests, the compensation package has been increased for 12,000 families that were not adequately compensated and 2200 people got jobs in different government departments [5]. With the mass protests and continued agitation by the Visthapit Mukti Vahini (VMV) government has also forced to lower the height of the dam [3].
Still, massive displacement occurred and cash compensation cannot easily pay off the loss.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The national rehabilitation and resettlement policy, 2007
[click to view]

Jharkhand Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2008
[click to view]

Forest Rights Act
[click to view]

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

Oustees of Chandil Dam
[click to view]

This is our homeland … a collection of essays on the betrayal of adivasi rights in India,

[click to view]

[1] Subernarekha Multipurpose Project JI02355
[click to view]

[2] At dam site,gains now mean more than 40 years of pain
[click to view]

[3] Anti-Dam Activist
[click to view]

[4] Anti-Chandil dam activists challenge Land Acquisition Act
[click to view]

[5] Dispossession to Development - Rehabilitation Success for Chandil Dam Displaced
[click to view]

Dam-hit villagers in 6-hour dharna
[click to view]

Dam protest grows louder
[click to view]

Dubious benefit
[click to view]

Bid to settle dam impasse
[click to view]

Barrage project in dire straits
[click to view]

Displaced list set to swell
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1305
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