FAC gives final clearance to North Koel dam project in Jharkhand

The project will impact 15 villages in the Palamau Tiger Reserve, and the people have been protesting against the project

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Friday 19 April 2019

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MoEF&CC’s) Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has given Stage II clearance for the construction of the North Koel Dam in core area of Palamau Tiger Reserve in Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand.

The clearance also comes with the permission to start construction and settle the villages which will be submerged by the project before closing the sluice gates of the dam.

The project was accorded the Stage-I approval on February 23, 2018. One of the conditions stipulated under the approval was that the settlement of the project-impacted families should take place before the construction of the project starts. However, the Jharkhand government, through a letter written on December 24, 2018, requested MoEF&CC to modify this condition.

“The state government has stated that this condition would not allow the execution of the work without prior settlement of submergence villages. In this regard the state government has already represented that the financial burden of the settlement plan be borne by Government of India, on which a decision is awaited. In view to this, the condition… be amended to state that the state government will ensure time bound settlement plan for settling the submergence villages before closing the sluice gates of the dam,” the minutes of the FAC meeting note.

The project will impact 15 villages in the Palamau Tiger Reserve, and the people have been protesting against the project. As recent as January 5 this year, when the foundation stone of the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the project-affected people took out a march in the district. However they were taken into custody before they could reach the premise.

“Now that they have decided to avoid settling people till the gates are closed, this means that settlement will not be done. Once the dam is constructed, the people will be left at their mercy,” said Sanjay Basu Mallick, a tribal rights activist based out of Ranchi.

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