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Dams Built on Rivers of Blood – A Fact Finding Report on the State Repression at Kanhar Dam



Aklu Chero, an adivasi from Sundari village was shot at by the Sonbhadra Police officials on 14th of April 2015 when he along with other villagers was protesting against the Kanhar dam construction and against illegal land acquisition. The bullet shot right through his chest missing his heart marginally. While talk- ing to him in the hospital he said, “Ladaai jaari hai (Struggle is continuing)”…


The district of Sonbhadra was carved out from Mirzapur on the 4th of March 1989 and it is second largest district of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The district is stretched across an area of 6788 km2 out of which 3782.86 km2 is covered by forest area. This contrib- utes to around 55.73% of the total land area. Apart from the forest areas and the rich varieties of flora and fauna found in the area, the district is also famous for the growing number of industries and industrial pollution.

There are 9 major thermal power plants of about 9421.7 MW capacities, 5 coal mining fields 17.087 Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA), 3 Chemical Industries which produces around 55862.3 tonnes/month, a cement industry that produces around 66000 tonnes /month of cement, and a lime stone mining field 2,66,666 tonnes of limestone per month. The most important point to note is that the industries are constantly expanding in this area.

According to the report of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the “Mercury Pollution in Sonbhadra District of Uttar Pradesh and its heath impacts” in October 2012, it was found that most of the drinking water samples that were tested from the area were not found suitable for drinking, the mercury levels in the water, soil, the fish samples and people’s bodies were much higher than the permissible levels and also the traces of lead, arsenic, chromium and fluoride present in the same were much higher than permissible levels. The water samples from the hand pump in Anpara and Chilka Daad contained mercury 8 higher than the permissible limit respectively.

The expanding industries and industrial pollution has affected the lives of people living in and around Sonbhadra drastically. Massive displacements, denial of jobs in the Industries, temporary/ contractual jobs, poor living conditions, excessive migration, and damages to forests, massive deforestation, agricultural fields and properties are some of the damages created to the lives of people living in the area.


It is clear from facts and figures that half of Sonbhadra district is officially classified as forest land and is under the control of forest department whereas this is the same district that is doing far poor in implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA) that got passed in the year 2006. The irony of Sonbhadra is that, on the one hand most of the forest land is diverted towards industrial and mining use and to dominant caste people, on the other hand the majority of dalits & adivasis are made to live in constant fear of forest department and the district officials and are tagged as ‘encroachers’ and ‘Maoists’ which is in itself contentious under the FRA as well as under the Indian constitution. There have been reports of widespread violence against the adivasi and dalit communi- ties demanding their rights under the FRA 2006.

Kanhar Dam Project

The Kanhar Dam Project was initially envisaged in the year 1977. The Kanhar Irrigation Project was originally approved by Central Water Commission in September, 1976. The project is located downstream of the river Pagan with Kanhar near village Sugawan in Tehsil Dudhi of District Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh. The project proposes a 3.003 km earthen dam having a maximum height of 39.90 m from deepest bed level which may be increased to 52.90m if linked to Rihand reservoir. The project envisages submergence of 4131.5 Ha land which includes parts of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The project was completely abandoned since 1989 and construction work is started on 5th December, 2014. Information accessed under RTI shows that the project does not have a valid ‘Environment Clearance’ and ‘Forest Clearance’. The project was proposed with an initial budget 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 volcanic protests from tribal communities of the region. As per a progress report of the project for 1998-99, the construction work is completely

Download full report Kanhar Fact Finding Report Final Circulation

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