Under people’s protest Jharkhand closes Koel-Karo project

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RANCHI - Succumbing to people’s power, the Jharkhand government finally closed the ambitious 710 MW Koel-Karo hydro-electric project Tuesday, 37 years after its conception.

The Advisory Council of Governor put a seal of closure on the long-pending projects which could not take off due to protests by tribals facing displacement.

The state government also closed offices of the project and said it would rehabilitate 32 employees in other departments.

“The project was not viable. The state government had in principle decided to close the project a few years ago. The project cost had swelled to Rs.3,300 crore from the original Rs.430 crore. And the per unit power production cost could have been Rs.7.50 which is much higher than thermal power projects,” a state government official told IANS.

If the project in the South Chotanagpur region of the state had been completed on time, it could have helped Jharkhand solve its acute power crisis. Jharkhand needs more than 1,400 MW while it produces only 250-350 MW.

The much-hyped Kole-Karo project was mooted in 1973. Two dams on the Koel and Karo rivers in Torpa block of Khuti district were to be built. The power project envisaged installation of 172.5 MW x 4 and 20 MW power plants in the Torpa and Tamar areas of the district.

But the local people were opposed the project since its inception. Many villages would have submerged if the two dams had been built. The projects needed 22,680 hectares of land.

Attempts made by the NHPC and the state government failed to pacify the protesting villagers. The villagers had blocked the entry of outsiders to prevent land acquistion.

They were backed by many non-governmental organisations and political parties. The protests and agitations in fact have been one of the the longest fight against any dam in the country.

The National Hydel Power project (NHPC), which was to implement the project, had closed its offices in 2005.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at nityanand.s@ians.in)

Filed under: Economy

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