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Subarnarekha River

Subarnarekha River

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Subarnarekha River flows through the India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n states
States and territories of India
India is a federal union of states comprising twenty-eight states and seven union territories. The states and territories are further subdivided into districts and so on.-List of states and territories:...

 of Jharkhand
Jharkhand is a state in eastern India. It was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000. Jharkhand shares its border with the states of Bihar to the north, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the west, Orissa to the south, and West Bengal to the east...

, West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

 and Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...



As per tradition, gold was mined near the origin of the river at a village named Piska near Ranchi
-Climate:Ranchi has a humid subtropical climate. However, due to its position and the forests around the city, it is known for its pleasant climate. Its climate is the primary reason why Ranchi was once the summer capital of the undivided State of Bihar...

. This is why it was named Subarnarekha, meaning ‘streak of gold’. Legend has it that traces of gold were found in the river bed. Even now people look for traces of gold particles in its sandy beds. The name is a combination of two words meaning gold and line/streak in Indian languages.


After originating near Piska/ Nagri, near Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, the Subarnarekha traverses a long distance through Ranchi
Ranchi District
Ranchi district is one of the twenty-four districts of Jharkhand state in eastern India. Ranchi city, the capital of Jharkhand state is the district headquarters.As of 2011 it is the most populous district of Jharkhand .-Origin of name:...

Seraikela Kharsawan and East Singhbhum
East Singhbhum
East Singhbhum is one of the twenty-four districts of Jharkhand state, India. It was created on 16 January 1990. The literal meaning of Singhbhum is land of lions. More than 50% of the district is covered by dense forests and mountains, where wild animals once roamed freely...

 districts in the state. Thereafter it flows for shorter distances through Paschim Medinipur district in West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

  for 83 kilometres (51.6 mi) and Balasore district
Balasore District
Balasore District, also known as Baleswar District or Baleshwar District, is an administrative district of Orissa state in eastern India. The lingua franca is Oriya. The coastal district is known for its beautiful mountains and famous temples. Balasore is a place of scenic beauty and a major...

 of Orissa. There it flows for 79 kilometres (49.1 mi) and joins the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 near Talsari
Talasari Beach is a beach in the Baleswar district of Orissa, India. It lies on the north-eastern coast of India.The name Talasari is derived from the two words Tala and Sari/Sarani . The palm trees surrounding the place gives such a name to it...

. The total length of the river is 470 kilometres (292 mi).

The basin of the Subarnarekha is smaller amongst the multi-state river basins in India. The rain-fed river covers a drainage area of 1.93 million hectares


The prominent tributaries of the Subarnarekha are Kharkai
Kharkai River
The Kharkai River is a river in eastern India. It is one of the major tributaries of the Subarnarekha River.It arises in Mayurbhanj district, Orissa, on the north slopes of Darbarmela Parbat and the western slopes of Tungru Pahar, of the Simlipal Massif. It flows past Rairangpur and heads north...

, Raru, Kanchi, Damra, Karru, Chinguru, Karakari, Gurma, Garra, Singaduba, Kodia, Dulunga and Khaijori. The Kharkai meets the Subarnarekha at Sonari(Domuhani), a neighbourhood of Jamshedpur.

Hundru Falls

Hundru Falls is created on the course of the Subarnarekha, where it falls from a height of 98 metres (321.5 ft). The spectacular scene of water falling from such a great height has been described as a sight to behold. The different formations of rock due to the erosion by the constantly falling of water have added to the beauty of the place.


The Subarnarekha passes through areas with extensive mining of copper and uranium ores. As a result of the unplanned mining activities, the river is getting polluted. The Subarnarekha has been the lifeline of tribal communities inhabiting the Chhotanagpur region and water pollution affects their life style and livelihood.


Several areas in the lower reaches of Subarnarekha, particularly the coastal areas of Orissa and West Bengal are wihin the flood hazard zone. The Subarnarekha in Orissa had crossed its previous Highest Flood Level (HFL) of 12.2 metres (40 ft) in 2007, surpassing the earlier record of 1997. In 2009 Subarnarekha witnessed flash floods following heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of the river. During flood, large areas of Jaleswar, Bhograi and Baliapal blocks and a small pocket of Basta block in Balasore district of Orissa are affected. Certain areas of Medinipur in West Bengal are also affected by floods.


Getalsud reservoir is located across the Subernarekha, 40 kilometres (24.9 mi) east of Ranchi and about 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) from its point of origin. Completed in 1971, this multi-purpose reservoir was envisaged mainly to meet municipal water demands of Ranchi city and the adjoining industrial area. The height of the dam is 35.5 metres (116.5 ft). There are two power houses with one unit of 65 MW each.

Subarnarekha multipurpose project

The Subarnarekha multipurpose project envisaged the construction of two dams, one at Chandil
Chandil is a census town in Seraikela Kharsawan district in the state of Jharkhand, India.The first commercial sponge iron plant in India is located at Umesh Nagar in Chandil....

 across the Subarnarekha and the other across the Kharkai at Icha near Chaibasa
Chaibasa is a city and a municipality in West Singhbhum district in the state of Jharkhand, India. Chaibsa is district headquarter of West Singhbhum district.- Geography :Chaibasa is located at...

, two barrages at Galudih across the Subarnarekha and the other across the Kharkai at Ganjia near Adityapur
Adityapur is named after Raja Aditya Pratap Singh Deo,the last ruler of Saraikela/Seraikella. It is today an industrial town/sister city, separated from the famous city of Jamshedpur by the Kharkai River. It lies in Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand....

 and a network of canals from these. Three small storage reservoirs and a network of canals from these reservoirs are in Orissa. Started in 1982-83, the multipurpose project was planned for irrigation, hydropower generation and water supply. While the Chandil dam and Galudih barrage are almost complete, the other components are still incomplete. Subernarekha Barrage project (West Bengal) envisages construction of a barrage across the Subarnarekha downstream of Chandil dam and Galudih barrage near Bhosraghat to irrigate 1,14,198 ha annually in the Medinipur district of West Bengal through a left bank canal and its distribution system covering a culturable command area of 96,860 ha. The project was taken up for construction in the year 1995-96.

Land requirements

The land requirements of the project were substantial. It was estimated that the Chandil Dam and reservoir required 17,028 hectares of land. Of this 3,260 hectares was Revenue Land and 1,060 hectares was forestland. The rest belonged to local adivasi communities. Icha Dam would have submerged 8,585 hectares of land in Jharkhand and 4,415 hectares of land in Orissa. A total of 7,075 hectares of this land was private land, 1,250 hectares was Revenue Land and 280 hectares was forestland. The Ganjia Barrage required 266 hectares of land, of which 50 hectares was private land, 14 hectares was Revenue Land and 202 hectares was forestland. Galudiha Barrage required 180 hectares of land, of which 150 hectares was private land and 30 hectares was Revenue Land. The canal network required additional land.

Agitation against projects

Poor planning for the resettlement of those affected by the dams of the Subarnarekha multipurpose project and inadequate compensation paid to them resulted in public agitation against dam construction. Some 68,000 people were affected and 30,000 hectares of farmland and forest was going to be inundated. A vast majority of those affected were the Adivasi
Adivasi is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups claimed to be the aboriginal population of India. They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India...

s. Those threatened by the Chandil dam protested against the project from its inception in 1975 and, in 1978, some 10,000 of them demonstrated against the dam at the construction site. Police harassment of a protest fast and then police firings on unarmed protesters caused four deaths. The project continued nevertheless. Chandil dam’s sluices were closed in and water allowed to fill up the reservoir.

Kirtania port

The Government of Orissa has signed a memorandum of understanding with Chennai-based Creative Port Development Pvt. Ltd. For the development of a deep-water, all-weather project at Kirtania at the mouth of the Subarnarekha. The Kirtania Port project was being taken up on a 50 year build, own, operate, share and transfer (boost) basis. The development would include a dedicated rail cum road connection from the port to the NH 5
National Highway 5 (India)
National Highway 5 is a major National Highway in India that runs along India's east coast through the states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The northern terminal is at Jharpokharia in Orissa and the southern terminal is at Chennai in Tamil Nadu...

 and rail network at Jaleswar
Jaleswar is a small town that falls under the state of Orissa. It belongs to Balasore district of state Orissa and is adjacent to border of West Bengal. 'Jaleswar' town is a notified area committee...



Ritwik Ghatak directed a Bengali film Subarnarekha
Subarnarekha (film)
Subarnarekha is an Indian Bengali film directed by Ritwik Ghatak. It was produced in 1962 but was not released until 1965. It was part of the trilogy, Meghe Dhaka Tara , Komal Gandhar , and Subarnarekha , all dealing with the aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 and the refugees coping with...

 in 1965. Ghatak’s films are deeply haunted by the spectre of the partition of Bengal
Partition of Bengal (1947)
The Partition of Bengal in 1947, part of the Partition of India, was a religiously based partition that divided the British Indian province of Bengal between India and Pakistan...

in 1947. In the film Subarnarekha, Ghatak “has rendered the very idea of home as a sentimental place on an elusive other side that, like the distant, opposing banks of the Subarnarekha River, symbolically represents an idealized, and intranscendible, elsewhere.”