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Panchet Dam and the Damodar Valley Project, Jharkhand, India


Panchet Dam is an earthen dam constructed on Damodar River at Panchet. The dam was constructed under the highly popular and ambitious multipurpose river valley project, called the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). The overall project was taken as the first river valley project in post independent India that included a number of dams, hydro power stations and a barrage. The Panchet dam site is located in District Dhanbad, State Jharkhand and was commissioned in 1958. The site is about 20 KM from Asansol an industrial town of West Bengal. The dam and its catchment area fall in both Jharkhand and West Bengal State of India [1, 2, 5].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Panchet Dam and the Damodar Valley Project, Jharkhand, India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Panchet, District-Dhanbad
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
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The dam is about 40.84 meter in height and about 6777 meter in length. The reservoir traps a catchment area of 10.961 sq kilometer. The annual average annual basin precipitation is 114 cm and the average annual run off is 4540 million cubic m. At the dam site, the maximum observed flood (June 1949) was 8558 cusec. For the project, the spillway design flood that was adopted was 17853 cusec. Two units of 40 MW has been installed at the power house for generation of hydropower [1,2].

Project area:7,275
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:73,650 families
Start of the conflict:06/12/1959
Company names or state enterprises:Damodar Valley Corporation from India
Relevant government actors:Government of India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Khotigrosto Sangram Samiti, Trinamool Congress Party (Political Party), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Political Party)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Protestors have asked the DVC management to open a dialogue. Protestors have threatened that if the authorities fail meet their demands they will disrupt work at the dam site [3]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The affected families had been told that they would be compensated, but nothing has happened. DVC officials said the corporation had given jobs to 4,862 affected villagers in the 1950s. Then, in 1977, a compensation package was announced and jobs were given to another 102 people. DVC officials also said that affected villagers will be considered if they show valid documents of their possession.
Local Member of Parliament had raised the issue in Indian Parliament and urged DVC to employ the kin of those affected. Other local political leaders are skeptical about DVC’s intention. They expressed their doubt that many of the affected landless people are now too old to work. So the compensation packages for these people are irrelevant now after so many decades [3].
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

[5] A. Nandy , Dams and dissent: India’s first modern environmental activist and his critique of the DVC project Futures 33 (2001) 709–731
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[1] Hydrology and Water Resources of India, Sharad K. Jain, Puspendra K Agarwal and Vijay P. Singh
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Dams and Barrage
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[2] Dams and Barrages
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[3] Panchet dam: Land protest after 56
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[4] The Temple Sites at Telkupi (“Bhairavasthan”) Jaina Architectural Remains Submerged by Panchet Dam in Jharkhand and West Bengal
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Indefinite Dharna by Damodar Valley Projects Adivasis (in Hindi)
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Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update22/05/2014
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