Nearly 40 years after it was first conceptualised, the ambitious Kanhar Dam project in Sonebhadra district of UP is all set to take final shape. Come June 1, irrigation minister Shivpal Yadav would flag off the work of concreting the dam that aims to end years of drought-like situation in the hitherto Naxal affected area of Uttar Pradesh.
Irrigation principal secretary Deepak Singhal confirmed concreting would begin by first week of June. “We are entering the decisive stage of the dam which got delayed repeatedly because of extraneous factors,” he said, speaking to TOI.
The development comes days after the Chhattisgarh government asked UP to halt the construction of dam till compensation issues in the tribal dominated state are settled. According to a survey, four villages are feared to be affected by the project in Chhattisgarh’s Balrampur-Ramanujganj district namely Jhaara, Kushfar, Semruva and Trishuli. In all, an area of around 258.40 hectare is estimated to be submerged. Singhal, however, claimed that the issue has been resolved with the Chhatisgarh government.
Proposed to come up in Amwar village of Sonebhadra, the dam has a long time line. In 1973, the Central Water Commission (CWC) pitched for a dam on Kanhar river. Subsequently, the Kanhar dam project was conceived in 1976 to provide irrigational facilities to Dudhi and Robertsganj tehsils of Sonbhadra district. Former UP chief minister N D Tiwari laid the foundation stone of the project the same year. Land was partially acquired between 1978 and 1982 and people received compensation at the time. But the project remained a non-starter due to alleged non-availability of funds for several years.
The construction of the dam started once again in 1984 and was scheduled to be completed by 2008. As per a document of irrigation department, in its conceptual stage, the dam—proposed on the confluence of river Pagal and Kanhar—was estimated to come at a cost of around Rs 28 crore. But the project never took off even as the cost of the project overshot by huge proportions. It is now proposed to come up at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore.
The project, in any case, is one of its kind in UP. Projected to serve more than 33,000 hectares of land the dam will serve through a network of 121.10 kilometers long main canal and another 150km of minor canals. Spanning over a length of nearly 3.2km the dam will have a maximum height of around 40 meters to store 0.160 million acres feet (MAF) of water which will flow through 14 gates having a dimension of 13 x 15 meters.
The project, as a matter of fact, has been facing a raging opposition from the tribals in the region. In April, the police had to open fire on protesting tribal who had gathered at the dam site to condemn the land acquisition for the project. The tribals like Bhooinus, Kharwars, Gondhs, Cheros and Panikas who dominate the region, have been against the project apprehending it would destroy around 2,500 hectare of dense forests and submerge 87 villages once it comes up.