India is a country blessed with a rich network of rivers and water bodies. Dams play a crucial role in harnessing the water resources of India. They not only provide water for irrigation and drinking purposes but also generate electricity, control floods, and provide for various other purposes. In this article, we have compiled a list of major dams in India.
What is a Dam?
A dam is a barrier that is constructed across a river or other watercourse to hold back and control the flow of water. Dams can be used for a variety of purposes, including irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, flood control, and water storage.
Types of dams
There are several types of dams, including:
- Gravity Dams: These dams are constructed from concrete or masonry and rely on their weight to resist the water pressure. Examples include the Hoover Dam in the United States and the Bhakra Dam in India.
- Arch Dams: These dams are curved in shape and use the arch action to transfer the weight of the water to the abutments. Examples include the Idukki Dam in India and the Hoover Dam in the United States.
- Buttress Dams: These dams have multiple supports or buttresses on the downstream side to resist the water pressure. Examples include the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in India and the Daniel-Johnson Dam in Canada.
- Embankment Dams: These dams are made by building an embankment or a dike across a river or a valley and are commonly used for irrigation and flood control. Examples include the Sardar Sarovar Dam in India and the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.
- Arch-Gravity Dams: These dams combine the features of both gravity and arch dams and are used for high and narrow valleys. Examples include the Limnadh Dam in India and the El Cajón Dam in Mexico.
- Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dams: These dams are made of a special type of concrete that is compacted using rollers to create a dense, impermeable barrier. Examples include the Bhatsa Dam in India and the Massingir Dam in Mozambique.
The choice of dam type depends on various factors, including the height of the dam, the nature of the foundation, the water flow, and the geological conditions of the site.
Dams in India
Total number of Dams in India
According to the National Register of Large Dams (NRLD), as of 2021, India has a total of 5,606 large dams (with a height of more than 15 meters or a storage capacity of more than 60 million cubic meters), and over 4,000 medium and small dams. The NRLD is a comprehensive database of dams in India maintained by the Central Water Commission (CWC), which is the apex government body for water resources in the country. The number of dams in India is constantly changing as new dams are built, and some older ones are decommissioned or removed.
First or oldest dam in India
The first dam in India is the Kallanai Dam, also known as the Grand Anicut, which was built across the Kaveri River in the state of Tamil Nadu during the reign of the Chola dynasty king Karikalan around 2,000 years ago. The dam was built to divert water from the Kaveri River to irrigate the surrounding farmland and is still in use today, making it one of the oldest functional dams in the world.
Highest Dam in India
The highest dam in India is the Tehri Dam, located on the Bhagirathi River in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The dam has a height of 260 meters (853 feet), making it one of the tallest dams in the world. The Tehri Dam is a multipurpose project that was built for generating hydroelectricity, providing irrigation, and controlling floods in the region. The construction of the dam was completed in 2006 after several years of controversy and protests by environmental groups and local communities who were concerned about the potential impact on the ecology and people’s livelihoods. Despite the opposition, the Tehri Dam has become an important source of electricity for the northern region of India and a popular tourist attraction.
Longest Dam in India
The longest dam in India is the Hirakud Dam, located on the Mahanadi River in the eastern state of Odisha. The dam has a length of 25.8 kilometers (16 miles), making it one of the longest dams in the world. The length of main dam itself is 4.8 km. The Hirakud Dam is a multipurpose project that was built for flood control, irrigation, and hydroelectric power generation. The construction of the dam began in 1948 and was completed in 1957, making it one of the earliest large-scale river valley projects in India. The Hirakud Dam has been instrumental in the economic development of the region and has helped to improve agricultural productivity and provide a reliable source of electricity. It is also a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of modern engineering in India.
Smallest Dam in India
The smallest dam in India is believed to be the Dhamapur Lake Dam, located in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. The dam has a height of only 6.1 meters and a length of 37 meters, with a storage capacity of about 1.23 million cubic meters. The dam was built in the 16th century to provide water for irrigation and other purposes.
List of major dams in India
- Bhakra Dam: Located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the Bhakra Dam is one of the highest gravity dams in the world. It was constructed on the Sutlej River and is used for hydroelectric power generation and irrigation.
Height: 226 meters
Length: 518 meters
River: Sutlej River
Location: Himachal Pradesh
Year of Completion: 1963
- Hirakud Dam: Located in Odisha, the Hirakud Dam is built across the Mahanadi River. It is one of the longest dams in the world and provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 60 meters
Length: 25.8 kilometers
River: Mahanadi River
Year of Completion: 1957
- Sardar Sarovar Dam: Located in Gujarat, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is one of the largest dams in India. It was built on the Narmada River and is used for irrigation, drinking water supply, and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 163 meters
Length: 1.2 kilometers
River: Narmada River
Year of Completion: 2017
- Tehri Dam: Located in Uttarakhand, the Tehri Dam is one of the highest dams in the world. It was built on the Bhagirathi River and is used for hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 260 meters
Length: 575 meters
River: Bhagirathi River
Year of Completion: 2006
- Nagarjuna Sagar Dam: Located on the Krishna River between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is one of the largest masonry dams in the world. It is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 124 meters
Length: 1,550 meters
River: Krishna River
Location: Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
Year of Completion: 1969
- Mettur Dam: Located in Tamil Nadu, the Mettur Dam is built on the Cauvery River. It is one of the oldest and largest dams in India and is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 65 meters
Length: 1,700 meters
River: Cauvery River
Location: Tamil Nadu
Year of Completion: 1934
- Tungabhadra Dam: Located in Karnataka, the Tungabhadra Dam is built on the Tungabhadra River. It is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 49 meters
Length: 2,445 meters
River: Tungabhadra River
Year of Completion: 1953
- Indira Sagar Dam: Located in Madhya Pradesh, the Indira Sagar Dam is one of the largest dams in India. It was built on the Narmada River and is used for irrigation, drinking water supply, and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 92 meters
Length: 653 meters
River: Narmada River
Location: Madhya Pradesh
Year of Completion: 2005
- Koyna Dam: Located in Maharashtra, the Koyna Dam is built on the Koyna River. It is used for hydroelectric power generation and is one of the largest dams in Maharashtra.
Height: 103 meters
Length: 807 meters
River: Koyna River
Year of Completion: 1963
- Mullaperiyar Dam: Located in Kerala, the Mullaperiyar Dam is built on the Periyar River. It is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
Height: 53.6 meters
Length: 365.7 meters
River: Periyar River
Year of Completion: 1895
These are just a few of the major dams in India that play an essential role in the country’s water resources management. There are many other dams, both big and small, located in different parts of the country, contributing to the overall growth and development of India.