Subernarekha multipurpose Project (Icha Dam), Jharkhand, India


Swarna Rekha Multi-Purpose project (SMP) is located across the three states (Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa) in the eastern part of India. The project originally envisaged two dams viz., Chandil dam and Icha dam and two barrages (Kharkai and Galudih) [1]. The project was started during 1982-83 with an aim to supply water for agriculture in Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Beside this the other aims of the project was to reduce flood damage in Orissa and West Bengal and generate 30 MW of hydroelectric power through medium, mini ­and micro-hydroelectric projects located at various points of the canal system [2].

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Basic Data
NameSubernarekha multipurpose Project (Icha Dam), Jharkhand, India
SiteVillage- Kuju, Icha
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 DetailsThe proposed project is located in Jharkhand on the River ‘Kharkai’. The proposed dam site is located near the Chaibasa town. The proposed length and height of the dam is about 1215.9 meter and 38.4 meter respectively [5]. It is a joint venture river valley project among Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The major aim of this project is to supply water for agriculture purpose. Around 3.6 lakh hectares of land will be irrigated once the dam is constructed. As the dam site is located in Jharkhand, it will benefit the most. About 2.63 lakh hectares will be irrigated in the Jharkhand state alone. It will also generate around 500 MW of hydel power [3].

For further details:
Project Area (in hectares)8,498
Level of Investment (in USD)118,523,936.29 (700 crores) [7]
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population28,000-30,000 [6]
Start Date1982
Company Names or State EnterprisesSubernarekha Multipurpose Project
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Jharkhand, Government of West Bengal, Government of Orissa, Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSwarnarekha Project’s Icha Dam Bisthapith Sangh, Akhil Bhartiya Aadivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Political Party)

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
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesThe area is mainly inhibited by the tribal and they belong to ‘Ho Religion’. The tribe of Ho religion believes in the ‘worship of Mother Nature’. Their social and religious conventions and customs do not permit them to part with their land. Of the 30 villages identified by the government for conducting “gram sabha meetings” (village level meeting) which is essential for land acquisition under PESA Act of 1996 have rejected the project. Hence the project work has not progressed much [3].
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Recently (September 2013) a delegation led by the local Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand opposing the constriction of the dam. The villagers mentioned that if the dam is constructed, about 124 villages will be submerged. The delegation quoted a 1981 survey report that 50,000 families would be affected if the dam was constructed. After hearing the delegation under the banner of "Swarnarekha Project’s Icha Dam Bisthapith Sangh," the Chief Minister (CM) assured that his government would look into the proposal from the activists constructively. The work of the project will be taken up by the government taking into consideration of peoples’ interest. The CM has also assured that works of the dam can only be initiated after taking consent of the people [4].
Sources and Materials

The Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation And Resettlement act, 2013
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The Provisions Of The Panchayats (Extension To The Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 no.40 Of 1996
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Displacement in Subernrekha multi-purpose project and civil society organisation's intervention
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[6] This is our homeland … a collection of essays on the betrayal of adivasi rights in India, EQUATIONS July 2007
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Police Action against Dam Oustees
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[1] Swarna Rekha Multi-Purpose Project
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[3] Tribals oppose fresh bid to construct Icha dam
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[4] Interest of people paramount, says Jharkhand CM
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[5] Icha D01403
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[7] सात सौ करोड़ से बनेगा ईचा डैम, आचार संहिता के पूर्व हुआ टेंडर (in Hindi)
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Subernarekha Multipurpose Project JI02355
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खुलकर विरोध में आए चंपई, ईचा डैम के निर्माण को लेकर कहा नहीं होने देंगे निर्माण (in Hindi)
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Jharkhand minister attends anti-dam tribal meeting
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Displaced list set to swell
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[2] Water Resources Development Projects in Subarnarekha
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Other Documents

The site of the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project Source
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update28/05/2014