होम News The Human Cost Behind Jharkhand and Bihar’s Water Future

The Human Cost Behind Jharkhand and Bihar’s Water Future

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In the heartlands of Jharkhand and Bihar, a transformative endeavor, the Koel Reservoir Project, has been unfolding its wings, aiming to quench the thirst of drought-stricken regions and breathe life into parched lands. However, this noble initiative has not been without its share of challenges. Displaced families, numbering around 780 and hailing from 12 villages in Palamu district, have stood in the project’s path, voicing their concerns and seeking rightful compensation and rehabilitation.{The Human Cost}

This saga began in 1973, with the inception of the project that envisioned a 55-meter-high dam gracefully bridging the North Koel river, a tributary of the mighty Sone river. The dream was grand – to create a reservoir spanning 66 square kilometers, with a colossal storage capacity of 116 million cubic meters. A vision that promised prosperity for 1.11 lakh hectares of land in both Jharkhand and Bihar.

However, the journey has been marred by delays, tangled in a web of environmental clearances, land acquisitions, and protests by the very families it sought to uplift. The ambitious venture witnessed its revival in 2017 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone, infusing it with renewed hope. The governments, both at the center and the states, pledged to shoulder the project’s financial burden, agreeing on a 60:40 ratio.

Amidst this backdrop, the displaced families, the true custodians of the land that the dam will reshape, have cried out for justice. Their demands echo through the years – adequate compensation, comprehensive rehabilitation, and viable livelihood alternatives. Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, leaving them to eke out an existence in makeshift shelters, bereft of basic amenities.

In their pursuit for justice, these families have not been silent spectators. They have taken to the streets, blocking construction, staging protests, and even knocking on the doors of justice through petitions. United under the banner of Koel Karo Jan Sangathan (KKJS), they have presented a formidable front, demanding their rightful place in the sun.

The ultimatum has been set. October 31 looms large on the horizon, a deadline that, if unmet, threatens to unleash a massive agitation. The ball now rests in the court of the government, which, in response, has offered assurances. The district administration has pledged a comprehensive survey to identify the deserving beneficiaries, assuring them of compensation and rehabilitation that befits their sacrifices.

Amidst these promises, the State Water Resources Department has vowed to forge ahead, setting a target of 2024 for the project’s completion. Hope flickers on the horizon, promising a day when water will flow freely, irrigating fields and filling cups. The Koel Reservoir Project, with all its challenges, stands testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring quest for justice in the face of adversity.

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