Damodar Bachao Andolan

Damodar is an interstate river. It originates from Chulhapani in Lohardaga district in Jharkhand and merges into river Hugli, a branch of mighty river Ganga in west Bengal. It travels 258 km in Jharkhand and 283 km in West Bengal. Damodar is one of the largest sub basins of Ganga basin. It is also one of the most polluted river in the country. The centers of economic activities thriving on both of its banks and elsewhere in its basins are proving Bhasmasur for it and bent upon finishing its very existence by means of pollution. The acute pollution of river Damodar is not due to incidental failures but due to technological success.

River Damodar is an interstate river having a total length of 541 Km out of which about 258 Kms it traverses in Jharkhand and the rest in West Bengal. Its main tributary is Barakar which flows almost parallel to it before merging into it just below the boarder of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The Damodar, a masculine river, finally drains into the Bhagirathi in West Bengal below 48 kms approximately from Kolkata. The total catchment area of the Damodar River System is 22,528 Sq. Kms of which 16,934 Sq. Kms (76 per cent) lies in the State of Jharkhand. The region stretches between 22 10'N and 24 50'N latitude and 84 30'E and 88 10'E longitude.

The average yield of the basin is 12.2 Lham (Report of Irrigation Commission Govt. of India 1972). The total surface flow within the State is estimated to be 5.80 Lham (on 75 per cent dependability as worked out by the this Commission). The Damodar rises from a place called Chulhapani of the Chotanagpur plateau in Lohardaga district in Jharkhand. During its flow in Bihar it is joined by the important left bank tribularies like the Konar and the Barakar at its 180 and 258 Km respectively from its origin while the major right bank tributary, the river Gowal, joins the river Damodar at 219 Kms. The Bokaro and Konar rivers rise very near to each other on the Hazaribagh plateau and the two together meet near Govindpur before they finally outfall into the Damodar at about 5 Kms further downstream.

Damodar is the lifeline of development of Jharkhand. It flows over thick coal seam in the state of Jharkhand and two major subsidiaries of the Coal India Ltd. namely the Central Coalfields Ltd. and the Bharat Coaking Coal Ltd. falls in Damodar Basin area of Jharkhand. Several major industries, power plants and Bokaro Steel Plant besides more than two dozen coal wateriest of the CC and the BCCL are situated on either sides of Damodar resulting into acute pollution of the river. Peeved with the in-human pollution caused by the public sector industries of both the Central as well as State Governments, Mr. Saryu Roy, the then Member of Legislative Council of Bihar, raised an alarm and launched a movement called Damodar Bachao Andolan. He began a study cum awarness march from the origin point of river Damodar at Chulhapani from 29th May, 2004 on the eve of the Ganga Dashahara upto the headquarter of the DVC at Kolkata. The march was concluded on 5th June on the eve of the World Environment Day. A team of experts headed by Prof. R K Sinha, known as the Dolphin Man Worldwide, accompanied the march throughout and collected samples of the water, sediment, aquatic lives at various points.

Since then on the eve of the Ganga Dassahara, Damodar Mahotsav is celebrated at about one and a half a dozen places on the either sides of the bank of Damodar and sampling of waters, sediments etc. are annually collected and tested at the environmental laboratory of Yugantar Bharati periodically.