Kanupur Irrigation Project, Keonjhar – Department of Water Resources , Government of Odisha

SKOCH Award Nominee

Category: Water – State Department
Sub-Category: subWater – State Department
Project: Kanupur Irrigation Project, Keonjhar
Start Date: 2008-02-06
Organisation: Department of Water Resources , Government of Odisha
Respondent: Mr Rajendra Kumar Pattnaik, Director, Resettlement and Rehabilitation(R&R)
Level: Premium Plus


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Case Study

Kanupur irrigation project for displaced tribal community of Odisha

The Water Resources Department works under the Government of Odisha settled the issue of Rehabilitation & Resettlement of project affected persons under Major Irrigation Project


The farmers who resided in the village were struggling because of involuntary displacement in irrigation projects. Historically, it is proven that involuntary displacement is always associated with trauma, impoverishment and loss of livelihood opportunities. To solve this issue, the government has started to rehabilitate and resettle the people who have been displaced by this major irrigation project. The process of rehabilitation is replete with long legal battles and several other forms of resistance to construction. The major problems with the government were to provide adequate compensation and suitable agricultural land to the affected people. The lack of suitable alternative agricultural land to compensate the residents was an issue that needed a careful redressal mechanism. The acquisition of forest land was another problem because alternative land was necessary to have proper compensatory afforestation mechanisms in place. However, the identification of surplus land for rehabilitation was tough and challenging in the process of acquiring land. There were technical issues also related to the construction of the project such as the porous pebble layer below the earth dam and spillway.

Apart from this, there were also sociological issues such as the shifting of Tribal Deity (Salabani- a place of worship for the tribal community of village Basudevpur). There was a risk of alienating people from their social-cultural milieu by relocating them to other places. 


The government has various solutions implemented related to rehabilitation and resettlement through continuous consultative dialogue between the community and the administration. In regards to allotting land, where alternative agricultural land was not available for compensation, cash grants were provided to affected people. Also, there was coordination with the forest and revenue departments to find alternative land in lieu of forest areas. In case of unviability of land in the same area, the district administration was persuaded to identify surplus lands in other areas where the government offices could be rebuilt after their displacement from submerged areas. Because of the positive impact of the irrigation project, the agricultural land became more productive as it was earlier, consequently, arresting urban migration in its tracks. To solve the sociological problems of tribal people, the resettlement was done keeping in mind the cultural sensibilities of people don’t get isolated from their social and cultural surroundings. The concerned department worked towards mitigating these risk factors and converted the displacement from involuntary to voluntary with adequate compensation and massive investment in civic infrastructure to improve the quality of life. The investment was made for the children of tribal people to facilitate their education such as the establishment of two schools and libraries along with dining facilities as well as improved opportunities for adolescent tribal girls and provision of housing for the landless labourers from the submergence zone are two key highlights of the project formulation.


This project has benefited more than 4000 people and their families who are affected by the irrigation project. The biggest achievement was that there was no civil suit filed contesting the land acquisition compensation provided to all project-affected people, which means that the people were content and satisfied with the entire redressal mechanism. Because of congenial dialogue between people and the concerned department, the process of resettlement shifted from involuntary to voluntary resettlement. In regards to compensation, the department gave a lucrative compensation and fulfilled the demands of the community, thereby easing the settlement process. The entire process of resettlement was done in a peaceful manner because there were no uses of force by the police or local administration. Another important outcome of this project is that it ensures the holistic development of the community through investments made in the civic infrastructure and it will go a long way in. Also, the project provided livelihood for families affected through socio-economic interventions.


The major challenge of the project was an uncertainty that prevailed for a long time over completion of project due to technical issues faced during execution of project work i.e. porous pebble layer found below the earth dam & spillway. Evacuation of displaced persons from submerged villages even after availing compensation was also a huge challenge. It was very difficult to identify suitable land within 20km radius of the project to avoid total dislocation from their immediate socio-cultural context. People who are residing in villages belong to the different social categories like SC, ST, Minorities, Women, Window, Unemployed youth and Orphans etc. All of them are affected with the irrigation project and it was a challenging task for the department to ensure rehabilitation and to provide livelihood support to all of them. 


As a measure of technological innovation, the department has launched a portal called land acquisition and rehab & resettlement management information system to ensure total automation of land acquisition process, award and compensation process including registration of grievances by land oustees and their redressal thereof within a stipulated time to ensure good governance. Non- technological innovation like no use of force, judicial litigation and investment in civic infrastructure help to ease the implementation of this project. During the evacuation process, non-use of physical force by the District Administration resulted in zero resistance & voluntary shifting. There was provision of free judicial litigation evacuation process since Govt. has filed only six Review Petitions in a major dam project involving 4000 PAPs of 16 villages. The major non- technological innovations were the massive government investment in civic infrastructure and educational improvement in the village. The government made per capita investment at Rs.5.50lakhs and per family investment at around Rs.22lakhs for the affected people. To improve the educational standard of tribal communities (Tribal adolescent girls) more than 8.00 Cr invested for the establishment of two Ashram Schools with provision of Hostel Facilities for inmates. 



The success of the project can be replicated all over the State and the Country as the good work has been achieved within the purview of the LA Act, which is a Union Act and the R&R Policy which is a State legislation. Around 4000 Project Affected Persons and their families have benefited with this project. Because of this project, people will have better civic infrastructure and better community living. Project will also benefit the youth of the community. Now, they will have better education opportunities. The project also benefited to providing a 24*7 electricity and 24hrs access to clean drinking water in the village. The most benefits incurred form the successful implementation of the irrigation project. Now, farmers will have better irrigation facilities in the village, it covers around 30000 hectares of land.

For more information, please contact:
Mr Rajendra Kumar Pattnaik, Director, Resettlement and Rehabilitation(R&R) at larrdowr@gmail.com

(The content on the page is provided by the Exhibitor)


  1. Good governance system, online grievance redressal through technological advancement system- land acquisition and rehab & resettlement management information system (larrmis) & continuous consultative discussion between the community and the administration, brought successful R & R of Kanupur Irrigation Project.

  2. One of the best Projects for re-settlement , which has taken care of the SOCIO-ECONOMIC need of displaced population , with a thought to be RELEVANT to present day challanges and Progressive for Future need and opportunity .

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