Mixed signals

The tale of two highly controversial dams has taken a twist in diametrically opposite directions. Thirty years after the Koel Karo hydroelectricity project was proposed, and in the face of 22 years of intense opposition to it from tribals, the Jharkhand government scrapped the venture on August 29. In the other development, the Supreme Court cleared the decks for Uttaranchal's Tehri dam project on September 1.

After signing the official order for the Koel Karo project, Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda justified the decision in view of the venture becoming financially unviable. "There is ample scope in the state to initiate small hydel projects that would benefit farmers. These would be low-cost schemes, causing minimum displacement of people who will be rehabilitated,' he asserted.

The anti-Koel Karo dam agitation is considered the country's most successful tribal movement. Though the state government was always supportive of the project, the National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation (NHPC) could not commence work due to the local people's protests. The 710-megawatt (mw) hydropower venture in Ranchi district was handed over to the NHPC in 1981.

The Rs 8,500-crore Tehri dam project

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