From the time of Independence, India has been engrossed in projected economic activities to attain self-sufficiency and improve the standard of living of its citizens. Among various actions followed for this intention, dealing with water resources has been one of the primary aims. Flood and famine are two of the major crisis faced in this country and as a result, they are being progressively handled in a structured fashion. Surface and ground water resources are looked at as complementary to each other. Their source is one and they attend to similar purposes. Out of these practical concerns and long experiences, Multi-purpose river valley projects have been gaining importance over the years because of the advantages obtained from it. The Damodar River Valley project was the first of its kind, adopted by free India.
In a multi-purpose river valley project quite a few targets are accomplished at a time. A gigantic single dam or series of small dams are constructed on a river and its tributaries. To begin with, these man-made lakes help in accumulating a massive volume of rain water. They also help in checking floods and safeguarding soils. The same water becomes very useful in irrigating farms, during the parched season, when water is in huge demand.
The catchment areas of these dams are now thoroughly afforested. This facilitates in preserving natural ecosystems and helps in conserving flora and fauna. It is high time that humankind wakes up to rejuvenate the ecological balance in the hilly catchment areas of the revitalising rivers. Afforestation also helps in avoiding chocking of dams, lakes, river channels and irrigation canals. It helps in prolonging their life and economic feasibility.
The stocked or stashed water in mountainous regions commonly furnishes high head. Stashed water, when falls from high altitude, helps in yielding power even in dry seasons. Power gained from running or falling water is known as Hydel-Power or Hydro-electricity. It is one of the cleanest, freshest and non-polluting forms of energy. Evenly vital is the fact that Hydro-Electricity is deduced from water which is a renewable resource. Therefore, in every regard it gains over fossil-fuels- which are exhaustible and are the least free from pollution.
Multi-purpose river valley projects frequently furnish for inland water navigation, by central rivers and canals. It is the cheapest way of transport for bulky goods. Another economic advantage of these projects is the perfect conditions they render for growth of fisheries. Fish hatcheries and nurseries are built to store water bodies with selected kinds of fish that are permitted to develop to their fullest. They are harvested only at fixed intervals, through checked fishing. Such well-developed fish farms can be the cheapest basis of protein for the populace. Such well-managed and scientifically developed river valley projects become a focus of tourist attraction.
Prior to Independence, water management was meant for irrigational purposes only. But today it encompasses creation of power, fisheries etc. Canal irrigation was practiced in the south from ancient times- particularly in the Kaveri delta. Tank irrigation was prevalent, nearly in every village in south. Similarly, productive irrigation was extensive throughout India. During medieval times, numerous sovereigns had encouraged canal irrigation in northern India. In British times, the vast, waterless tracts of north-west Indian subcontinent, especially in the Indus basin, were brought under irrigation, where retired army employees were inspired to inhabit in new grounds. Land was highly flat and rich, and Indus River
and its tributaries had sufficient water to irrigate these uncultivated lands. Cotton was a central cash crop, sown under irrigation. Stretching over a period of time, world`s one of the best canal irrigation networks was developed. However, major portion of it fell into Pakistan.
Damodar Valley Project
The Damodar Valley Project
redefines an instance towards administering the water resources on scientific lines. Damodar, though a small river, was called the river of sorrow, because of ravaging floods it used to induce. It streams from Chotanagpur in south Bihar
to West Bengal
, where it unites with the Hooghly
. The project comprises a chain of small dams on the tributaries of Damodar. However, there are only a few Hydel-Power stations. A navigable canal has also been constructed. The Hydel-Power is fed into a common grid, in which big thermal power stations furnish majority of electricity for the maturing industrial complexes, extending over south-east Bihar and bordering parts of West Bengal. The project waters half million hectares of land in West Bengal and parts of south-east Bihar.
Bhakra Nangal Project
The Bhakra Nangal Project is a glorious instance of water management on scientific lines, on the largest extent. The Bhakra Dam has been erected at a calculated point, where two hills on both sides of the Satluj stand very near to each other. The dam, as a result, is not very wide. It is the highest gravity dam in the world. The height reaches 226 metres from the river bed. It is located in the seismic zone, and the hills that act as huge natural walls for stashing 7,80,000 hectare-metres of water, and are made up of unstratified matter. Being very feeble and fragile, the hills are reinforced by instilling them with enormous concrete blocks at regular periods. The man-made lake, Gobind Sagar
in Himachal Pradesh
has been named after Guru Govind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs. It waters a massive area of 1.4 million hectares. The Bhakra Nangal power plant on the Satluj creates 1204 mw of electricity every year. The project provides the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab Haryana
and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
The Tungbhadra Project is a jointly undertaken by Karnataka
and Andhra Pradesh
on one of the tributaries of the Krishna river
, the Tungbhadra. It has a prospect of irrigating 4.97 lakh hectares of farming land. The Tungbhadra Project is almost 50 metres high and 2.5 km long, and it supplies around 4,00,000 hectares in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Indira Gandhi Canal Project
The Indira Gandhi Canal Project in Rajasthan is an aspired strategy to obtain fresh areas under irrigation, so that additional areas can also be reared. The waters of Beas
and Ravi had to be channelised towards Satluj and are stored near Firozepur, Punjab, in Harike barrage. The Pong Dam constructed on the Beas, accumulates 6,90,000 hectare-metres of water. It has helped to reroute the waters of Beas into Satluj, through a regularised manner, so that Indira Gandhi
or Rajasthan Canal, the longest irrigational canal in the world, can water Ganganagar
districts of northwest Rajasthan. The central canal is 468 kilometres in length. Waters of Satluj, Beas and Ravi are now being used by India to irrigate its water-thirsty lands in the north western parts of the country.