Kanhar Dam, UP, India


The Kanhar Dam was conceived 37 years ago and has been in abeyance since last 25 years. It was originally approved by the Central Water Commission in September, 1976 for irrigation purposes and the initial budget was of Rs. 27.75 Crores. Initially, there was some foundation work undertaken but the project was soon stalled due to inter-state issues, lack of funds and strong protests from tribal communities of the region. As per a progress report of the project for 1998-99, the construction work is completely abandoned since 1989-90. Since then, there are numerous occasions when the project was inaugurated, notable among them is one on 15th January, 2011 when the then Chief Minister Mayawati laid foundation stone again. Another inauguration took place when on 12th November, 2012 when Mr. Shiv Pal Singh Yadav (uncle of present CM Akhilesh Yadav), the Irrigation Minister of Uttar Pradesh laid another foundation stone to start the work of spillway. However no work could be taken up.

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Basic Data
NameKanhar Dam, UP, India
ProvinceUttar Pradesh
SiteDudhi tehsil, Sonbhadra
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details3.003 km earthen dam having maximum height of 39.90 m from

deepest bed level.

Concrete ogee spillway of 237 m long having 15 Nos. mechanically operated gates of size 13 x 14.5 m

31.50 km Right Main Canal and 25.6 Km Left Main Canal

Three Lift Schemes, two on the Left Main Canal and one on the

Right Main Canal

3 km long irrigation tunnel on Right Kanhar canal

45 Nos. drainage crossing on right bank canal and 35 Nos. drainage crossing on left bank canal, and

11 Nos. aqua ducts, 2 Nos. railway bridges, 7 Nos PWS bridges and

39 VRBs on canal and its distribution system.
Project Area (in hectares)4,131
Level of Investment (in USD)11,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population60,000
Start Date01/01/2002
Relevant government actorsState Government of Uttar Pradesh, Department of Irrigation
International and Financial InstitutionsNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) from India
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGram Swaraj Samiti, Vindhya Bachao, People's Union for Civil Liberties
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Public campaigns
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Land occupation
Refusal of compensation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Street protest/marches
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherMass arrests
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The work on the dam has been recently resumed. People are mobilizing but outcome is still uncertain.
Sources and Materials

EIA Notification, 2006
[click to view]

MoEF Circular dated 15th January, 2008-Applicability of EIA Notification, 2006 for Cases where Land has been Acquired before EIA Notification, 1994
[click to view]

Forest Conservation Act, 1980
[click to view]


Kanhar Project in UP: Another unwanted dam, published 29th December in SANDRP (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People)
[click to view]

Stop the illegal construction of the kanhar dam, published 5th January, 2015 by 'GLobal Call for Climate Action'
[click to view]

Kanhar Dam Resource Page on Vindhya Bachao portal
[click to view]

News article publishd by Hindi Daily Nayi Duniya, 3rd January, 2014
[click to view]

Story of Kanhar, published 15.12.2014 by Tehelka magazine in Hindi
[click to view]

Media Links

Kanhar Dam Project Site
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protest dharna Tribal People on indefinite protests at river bank. Source: http://www.vindhyabachao.org/images/Kanhar-Protests3.JPG
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorDebadityo Sinha, Vindhya Bachao ([email protected])
Last update09/01/2015