Efforts were on to prepare an alternative proposal so as to enhance the proposed project's catchment area in Jharkhand.

Pratim Ranjan Bose

Kolkata, Jan. 30

DAMODAR Valley Corporation (DVC) has revived its proposal for setting up a multi-purpose dam on Barakar River at Balpahari. The river forms the boundary between West Bengal and Jharkhand, the dam being located between the existing dams at Maithon and Tilaiya.

Though proposed some time in the middle of 2004, the proposal was practically put in cold storage due to the lack of approval from the Jharkhand Government. West Bengal, however, has already cleared the project.

Sources in the DVC said that the political tug-of-war between the two States regarding control over the corporation had adversely affected the implementation of the Balpahari project. In fact, efforts were on to prepare an alternative proposal so as to enhance the proposed project's catchment area in Jharkhand. DVC is also preparing a comparative study of the future benefits from the project for both the States.

A joint venture between the two State Governments and the Union Government, DVC has been at the centre of a political tussle ever since Jharkhand demanded a shift in the corporation's headquarters from Kolkata to Ranchi. The Jharkhand State Assembly has also passed a resolution in this regard.

Planned as part of its network of dams and barrages in the Damodar valley region, the Balpahari project was conceived with the objective of reducing the siltation problems at the multipurpose dam at Maithon, increase the reach of canal irrigation and add to the hydel generation capacity by 20 MW from the existing 144 MW.

In addition to 8,400 check dams spread over Bengal and Jharkhand, DVC owns a network of 4 major dams at Maithon, Panchet, Tilya and Konar and a barrage at Durgapur with the capacity to moderate peak floods of 6.51 lakh cusec to 2.5 lakh cusec and over 2,494 km of irrigation canal network.

The multi-purpose projects are set up on Damodar River and its tributaries, namely Barakar and Konar. Of the five projects, Maithon and Panchet are the biggest, both in terms of reservoir and hydel generation capacity (together producing over 140 MW).

Stating that siltation caused by large-scale deforestation in the upper valley region is reducing the DVC reservoir, sources said that commissioning of Balpahari project would impart a fresh lease of life especially to Maithon dam and the 3X 20 MW hydroelectric project.

DVC has recently appointed the Central Water Commission of India (CWC) to do a comprehensive study of the Damodar river valley region. The project is expected to take three years to be completed. Apart from exploring possibilities of setting up additional hydel capacities, the CWC study will provide inputs on the siltation problem, which is affecting the flood prevention capacities of the dam and barrage system.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 31, 2005)
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