Dams, Lakes, and Rivers of India

Dams, Lakes, and Rivers of India
Posted on 21-08-2023

Dams of India

A dam is a structure built to impede the flow of water, resulting in the creation of a reservoir. Dams serve various purposes, such as generating hydroelectricity, providing water for irrigation, domestic use, and industrial activities, as well as flood control and navigation.

There are several types of dams, each designed based on its structural characteristics:

  1. Arch Dam: A curved concrete dam that uses the arch's shape to support the pressure of the water against it. It is suitable for narrow canyons with stable rock walls.

  2. Gravity Dam: These dams are constructed from concrete or stone masonry and rely on their weight to resist the water's pressure. Each section is designed to be stable on its own.

  3. Arch-Gravity Dam: This type combines the features of both arch and gravity dams, curving upstream to direct water pressure against the canyon walls.

  4. Barrage: A low-head diversion dam with gates that control water flow, stabilizing river water levels upstream for irrigation and other uses.

  5. Embankment Dam: Created by compacting various materials like soil, sand, clay, or rock, with an impervious core to prevent water seepage.

  6. Rock-Fill Dam: Embankments of compacted, free-draining granular earth with an impervious core.

  7. Concrete-Face Rock-Fill Dam (CFRD): A rock-fill dam with concrete slabs on its upstream face to prevent leakage and uplift pressure.

  8. Earth-Fill Dam: Constructed of compacted earth and sometimes includes a drain layer to collect seep water.

Dams in India have played a significant role in various aspects:

  • Providing water for domestic, industrial, and irrigation purposes.

  • Generating hydroelectric power and facilitating river navigation.

  • Creating recreational areas for fishing and boating.

  • Reducing the impact of floods.

Key Dams in India include the Tehri Dam (Uttarakhand), the highest dam in India, the Hirakud Dam (Odisha), the longest dam in India, and the Kallanai Dam (Tamil Nadu), the oldest dam in India.

Major Dams in India include the Bhakra Nangal Dam (Punjab-Himachal Pradesh Border), Sardar Sarovar Dam (Gujarat), Nagarjuna Sagar Dam (Telangana), and others.

For instance, the Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand is a rock-fill dam on the Bhagirathi River. It is the highest dam in India, standing at 260.5 meters with a reservoir capacity of 2,100,000 acre-feet and an installed capacity of 1000 Megawatts.

The Bhakra Nangal Dam, located across the Sutlej River in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, is the largest dam in India by height (226 meters). Its reservoir capacity is around 7,501,775 acre-feet, and it has an installed capacity of 1325 Megawatts.

These dams have contributed to the effective utilization of water resources in India and have been crucial for various developmental activities in the country.

Lakes of India

India boasts a rich assortment of diverse natural resources, with water bodies prominently enhancing its scenic allure. Among these, lakes stand out as significant contributors to the country's natural beauty, gracing almost every state.

Lakes can be categorized into several distinct types:

  1. Freshwater Lakes

  2. Saltwater Lakes

  3. Natural Lakes

  4. Oxbow Lakes

  5. Artificial Lakes

  6. Crater Lakes

The largest lakes in India, ranked by decreasing area covered, include:

  1. Vembanad Lake - Kerala

  2. Chilika Lake - Odisha

  3. Shivaji Sagar Lake - Maharashtra

  4. Indira Sagar Lake - Madhya Pradesh

  5. Pangong Lake - Ladakh

  6. Pulicat Lake - Andhra Pradesh

  7. Sardar Sarovar Lake - Gujarat

  8. Nagarjuna Sagar Lake - Telangana

  9. Loktak Lake - Manipur

  10. Wular Lake - Jammu and Kashmir

A compilation of noteworthy lakes across India encompasses:

  1. Pulicat Lake - Andhra Pradesh

  2. Kolleru Lake - Andhra Pradesh

  3. Haflong Lake - Assam

  4. Deepor Beel - Assam

  5. Chandubi Lake - Assam

  6. Kanwar Lake - Bihar

  7. Hamirsar Lake - Gujarat

  8. Kankaria Lake - Gujarat

  9. Badkhal Lake - Haryana

  10. Brahma Sarovar - Haryana

  11. Chandra Taal - Himachal Pradesh

  12. Maharana Pratap Sagar - Himachal Pradesh

  13. Dal Lake - Jammu and Kashmir

  14. Wular Lake - Jammu and Kashmir

  15. Agara Lake - Karnataka

  16. Ulsoor Lake - Karnataka

  17. Kuttanad Lake - Kerala

  18. Sasthamkotta Lake - Kerala

  19. Bhojtal - Madhya Pradesh

  20. Shivsagar - Maharashtra

  21. Loktak Lake - Manipur

  22. Umiam Lake - Meghalaya

  23. Tam Dil - Mizoram

  24. Chilika Lake - Odisha

  25. Harike - Punjab

  26. Kanjli - Punjab

  27. Sambhar Lake - Rajasthan

  28. Tsomgo Lake - Sikkim

  29. Chembarambakkam - Tamil Nadu

  30. Hussain Sagar - Telangana

  31. Govind Bhallabh Pant Sagar - Uttar Pradesh

  32. Belasagar - Uttar Pradesh

  33. Bhimtal - Uttarakhand

  34. Kaliveli - Tamil Nadu

Lakes in India serve diverse purposes beyond their natural beauty, including:

  • Irrigation

  • Drinking water supply

  • Navigation

  • Livelihood support

Notable facts about Indian lakes:

  • Wular Lake ranks among Asia's largest freshwater lakes and formed due to tectonic activity.

  • Chilika Lake in Odisha stands as India's largest saline water lake.

  • Vembanad Lake in Kerala boasts the distinction of being India's longest lake.

  • Cholamu Lake in Sikkim claims the title of India's highest lake.

  • Lonar Lake, situated in Maharashtra's Buldhana district, is a designated National Geo-heritage Monument, characterized by its saline and soda nature.


Rivers of India

The river network in India serves as a crucial cornerstone for the nation's economy and society. Rivers like the Indus, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Krishna, and Mahanadi play pivotal roles in providing drinking water, irrigation, transportation, and electricity, thereby sustaining livelihoods across the country. Many historically significant cities have flourished along these water bodies due to their strategic importance.

India's river system, comprising these major rivers and their tributaries, flows into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The origin of these rivers can be traced back to the Himalayas, the Vindhya and Satpura Ranges, the Chotanagpur Plateau, and the Sahyadri or Western Ghats. Here's a breakdown of some of India's significant rivers and their origins:

  1. Indus River: Originating from the Tibetan Plateau and entering India through Jammu and Kashmir, the Indus flows into the Arabian Sea near Sindh.

  2. Brahmaputra River: Emerging from Tibet and entering India through Arunachal Pradesh, the Brahmaputra eventually merges with the Ganga and discharges into the Bay of Bengal.

  3. Ganga River: Starting from Uttarakhand's Gangotri Glacier (Bhaigirath), the Ganga empties into the Bay of Bengal, flowing through multiple states.

  4. Godavari River: Beginning in Maharashtra and traversing seven states, the Godavari culminates in the Bay of Bengal.

  5. Narmada River: Originating in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, the Narmada flows along the Gulf of Cambay before draining into the Arabian Sea.

  6. Krishna River: Beginning in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, the Krishna reaches the Bay of Bengal near Andhra Pradesh.

  7. Mahanadi River: Originating in Dhamtri, Chhattisgarh, the Mahanadi flows into the Bay of Bengal in Odisha.

  8. Kaveri River: Emerging from Talakaveri in Karnataka's Western Ghats, the Kaveri reaches the Bay of Bengal after traversing multiple states.

Himalayan Rivers like the Ganga, Indus, and Brahmaputra, sourced from snowmelt and glaciers, remain perennial due to their consistent water supply. However, during monsoons, heavy rainfall swells these rivers, often leading to floods.

The Indus river, which starts from Tibet and enters India, features notable tributaries like Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. The Ganga river, originating from Gangotri, joins Alaknanda at Devprayag and later divides into Padma (in Bangladesh) and Hooghly (in West Bengal). The Brahmaputra river, one of the world's longest, originates in Tibet and flows through four countries before reaching the Bay of Bengal.

Peninsular rivers such as Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Kaveri, Mahanadi, and Tapti follow different paths. They mostly flow through narrow valleys, causing seasonal changes based on rainfall. Dams and projects are strategically placed on these rivers to harness hydroelectric power.

For example, the Godavari, originating in Maharashtra, meanders through several states before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Narmada river, flowing through Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, supports important irrigation and energy projects. The Krishna river starts in Maharashtra and flows through Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, finally reaching the Bay of Bengal. The Mahanadi river, vital for Odisha, originates in Chhattisgarh and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Lastly, the Tapti river, originating in Madhya Pradesh, travels through Maharashtra and Gujarat, eventually reaching the Arabian Sea.

These rivers, encompassing a diverse range of geographical features and socio-economic importance, are the lifeblood of India, playing a critical role in shaping its development and history.

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