Subarnarekha in December, 2005 at Gopiballavpur
|States||Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha|
|- right||Kanchi River, Kharkai|
|Cities||Chandil, Jamshedpur, Ghatshila, Gopiballavpur|
|Landmarks||Getalsud Dam, Hundru Falls, Chandil Dam, Galudih Barrage|
|- location||Piska/ Nagri near Ranchi, Chota Nagpur Plateau|
|- elevation||610 m (2,001 ft)|
|Mouth||Bay of Bengal|
|- location||Kirtania port|
|Length||470 km (292 mi)|
As per tradition, gold was mined near the origin of the river at a village named Piska near Ranchi. 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 RanchiSeraikela Kharsawan and East Singhbhum districts in the state. Thereafter it flows for shorter distances through Paschim Medinipur district in West Bengal for 83 kilometres (52 mi) and Balasore district of Odisha. There it flows for 79 kilometres (49 mi) and joins the Bay of Bengal near Talsari. The total length of the river is 470 kilometres (290 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, Roro, 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 (322 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. One significant thing about Hundru falls is that it is the only Knickpoint waterfall in India.
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 Odisha and West Bengal are wihin the flood hazard zone. The Subarnarekha in Odisha 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 Odisha are affected. Certain areas of Medinipur in West Bengal are also affected by floods.
Getalsud reservoir is located across the Subernarekha, 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Ranchi and about 50 kilometres (31 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 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 across the Subarnarekha and the other across the Kharkai at Icha near Chaibasa, two barrages at Galudih across the Subarnarekha and the other across the Kharkai at Ganjia near Adityapur 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 Adivasis. 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 Odisha 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 and rail network at Jaleswar.
Ritwik Ghatak directed a Bengali film Subarnarekha in 1965. Ghatak’s films are deeply haunted by the spectre of the partition of Bengal 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.”
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