Please zoom in or out and select the base layer according to your preference to make the map ready for printing, then press the Print button above.

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].

For the project purpose land was acquired from local inhabitants, and construction started in 1982-83. However, the project works stopped in many occasion due to the opposition to land acquisition by the land owners. Also, forest clearance was not granted because the project is located in the forest areas. There were also complains of corruption and the lack of funds.

The agitations by the land owners started since 1972, when the project was initially conceptualized. In January, 1979 thousands of tribal, hold protest demonstration at the dam site. Police fired bullets to the agitating protestors resulted to deaths of four individuals. Since then, villagers are repeatedly protesting for rehabilitation and compensation to the concerned authorities [2].

About 52 villages are submerged every year during the monsoon, when the water level of the dam rises. Generally, villagers are relocated in temporary makeshift arrangements. Local administration sometimes posted notices in villages likely to be submerged during the monsoons. This provided the impetus for the villagers to approach the Supreme Court. The protest got a momentum after the formation of an organization called Visthapiti Mukti Vahini (VMV).

VMV is working for the causes of the dam oustees and have challenged the rehabilitation of people displaced by the Chandil dam in the Supreme Court of India in 1992. The petitioners have challenged the Land Acquisition Act and asked for rehabilitation and resettlement packages [3,4].

Basic Data

NameSubernarekha Multipurpose project (Chandil Dam), Jharkhand, India
SiteTown - Chandil; District - Seraikela Kharsawan
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 CommoditiesElectricity

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsSubernarekha 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].

Initially World Bank has sanctioned $127mn as assistance, but the funding was withdrawn following the protest by the locals. In 1998 National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) sanctioned a loan of Rs 118 crore for the construction of the project. However, there were allegation of financial corruptions, irregularities and mismanagement found in this project. Now the estimated cost of the project is Rs 6,613 crore and will be shared 90:10 between the state and the Centre [2]

The construction of Chandil dam & Galudih barrage are completed. The Power house with capacity of 8 MW (2 units of 4 MW each) is to be constructed at the Left Bank outlet of Chandil dam. Kharkhai barrage has not started yet and the works of Icha dam is almost completed. Irrigation potential of about 2200 hectares has been created [1].
Project Area (in hectares)17603
Level of Investment (in USD)1,123,225,136 (Rs 6,613 crore)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population60,000 (12,000 families)
Start Date01/01/1978
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 (GoI - Government of India), Planing Commission (GoI)
International and Financial 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 organisations and other supportersVisthapit 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)

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
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-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesSince 1987, the organization Visthapit Mukti Vahini has been struggling for adequate compensation for the displaced [5].
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials


Forest Rights Act

Jharkhand Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2008

The national rehabilitation and resettlement policy, 2007


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


Oustees of Chandil Dam


Dam-hit villagers in 6-hour dharna

Bid to settle dam impasse

Dam protest grows louder

Dubious benefit

[1] Subernarekha Multipurpose Project JI02355

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

[3] Anti-Dam Activist

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

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

Displaced list set to swell

Barrage project in dire straits

Other Documents

At dam site, gains now mean more than 40 years of pain Source :

Meta Information

ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update28/12/2015



At dam site, gains now mean more than 40 years of pain

Source :