Major River Projects

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Documentary on Big Dams of India

This documentary film was produced by Shantakaram Films for WAPCOS - Water And Power Consultancy Services to present the views of South East Asian Countries and Govt. of India on large dams, there benefits and there R&R problems in the '2nd World Water Summit' held in The Hague in Netherlands in February 2000. The video is of four parts . Please checkout and add your views...



Part - I



Part - II



Part - III



Part - IV


The world's worst recorded food disaster happened in 1943, when an estimated 4 million people in eastern India died. At the time, people believed the Bengal Famine happened because India's farmers could not produce enough food to feed everyone. Food security—ensuring sufficient food production to feed a country's people—became the Indian government's biggest priority. "Green Revolution" is the term that refers to the governmental focus on food production in India from 1967--1978. Previously, the country had focused on expanding the amount of land under cultivation, but as the population continued to increase at a much faster rate than food production, the government changed its focus. During the Green Revolution, attention turned to improving farming techniques.


There were three basic parts of the Green Revolution in India: (1) expansion of farming areas; (2)double cropping technique; and (3) improved seed genetics. Double cropping, harvesting two crops per year, was the primary feature of India's Green Revolution and required a steady supply of water. To make this possible, the government began construction of a network of large dams. Dams are able to conserve monsoons rains and irrigate crops all year, especially useful during the dry season.


In India, agriculture employs about two-thirds of the workforce and is the most important economic sector. Since the 1950s, there has been a 2.5% average yearly increase in crop output, mostly due to yield—how much food a plant or seed produces—and not to an increase in the amount of land being farmed. With the Green Revolution, the production of rice, the staple food of southeast India, increased by 350% and the production of wheat, the staple in the northwest, increased nearly 850%. 


Over 40 percent of India's population does not have access to electricity and providing electricity for 24 hours in rural areas is a major challenge. For this the Indian government has envisioned several paths for its energy requirements, from nuclear to renewable. Despite greening its energy requirements, the government has taken various paths from bidding foreign oil well through diplomatic manoeuvring to establishing fossil fuel thermal plants. Meanwhile, hydro-power is one of the energy sources which oscillate between aspiration and achievements. But today there is a strong push for large hydro projects in India.


The Bhakra Nangal dam project is an icon. Policy-makers, media persons and even ordinary people very often credit it with bringing about the Green Revolution. The irrigation waters from the extensive canal network of the project situated on the river Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh — it also taps water from the river Beas — is said to have turned Punjab and Haryana into the nation's bread baskets.


In addition to preventing destructive floods, this multipurpose project irrigates the agricultural areas of Delhi,Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. The project generates 1 million kilowatt of hydro-electricity. The lake created by the dam is a 97 km long, 6 km wide reservoir named Gobindsagar.Though located in Himachal Pradesh, the entrance to this dam is at Nangal in Punjab


Dams of India have been built across many perennial rivers since the independence of India. These dams in India are a part of several multi-purpose projects to serve a variety of needs. In a multi-purpose project, a river forms a unit and a river valley is developed, by exploiting all the resources of the river. Basically, dams are built to harness the river water so that it can be utilised according to the needs. A multipurpose project is launched often for storing water for irrigation purposes, generating hydro-electricity by utilising the water stored by the dams, preventing floods and facilitating afforestation in the catchments areas of the reservoirs. Moreover, the dams also provide drinking water, using the canals for navigation in some areas and also facilitating pisciculture and recreational activities. The main multipurpose projects constituting Indian dams are the Hirakud Dam in Orissa, the Bhakra-Nangal Project in Punjab, the Damodar Valley Project in Bihar and West Bengal, the Tungabhadra Project in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the Rihand Project in Uttar Pradesh.


Arable land and fresh water are two important resources of India. India's arable land area is 30% more than that of China which is as such three times India in size - geographically. India's surface water estimated at 1952 BCM is about two-third that of China. India's northern region makes up the World's largest alluvial plane and the soils rank among the most fertile in the World.

And yet India remains poor and underfed : Then, what is the handicap? It is two-fold - first our arable land is spread out stretching from Kachchh to Brahmaputra valley and from Deccan trap to planes of Punjab, while bulk of surface water sources are concentrated in about a dozen river basins; second, 80 to 90% of surface water is available only in monsoon months, and flows down the sea if not impounded. Therefore neither water nor land is utilised optimally, depriving the country of their full benefits.

The Sardar Sarovar Project, or any other large water resources project for that matter, has to be viewed in this national perspective.

In course of 50 years of planned economic development of our country, we have taken tremendous strides in agriculture sector. Our country which had to depend upon imports to feed even a population of 350 millions (35 crores) when we became independent, has attained a position of self sufficiency with some exportable surplus even with a population of over 1 billion (102 crores). This has been made possible by harnessing waters of major rivers of our country with a chain of large multipurpose projects starting from Bhakhara Nangal, Hirakud, Nagarjuna Sagar, Tungabhadra etc. India's population continues to grow notwithstanding our all out efforts on family planning front.Our country's population already crossed 120 crores by 2020 A.D.


Harnessing entire water resources of the country seems to be the only way to sustain our self-sufficiency in basic requirement of food and clothing. Other countries of the World have also done the same. And the faster we go on this path better assured we shall be on the food security and keeping poverty and hunger at bay, improving the quality of life and providing electricity to light the rural homes and energise wheels of Cottage Industries.But there are lot of negative side effects of big dams too......

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Visitors Comments

02 Dec 2011, 19:09
very good & important knowledge
18 Nov 2011, 21:26
nice great information