Before the destructive floods that took place in the year of 1937 in the river Mahanadi, Sir M. Visveswararya then proposed an exhaustive investigation with a proper solution to prevent these floods in the delta region of river Mahanadi. According to his findings it was the decided to understand and endow in the potential of the Mahanadi in order to not just control it but also to utilize it to serve various purposes. The project work was then undertaken by the ‘Central Waterways, Navigation and Irrigation Commission’. In June 1947, a detailed project report was then submitted to the Indian Government when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of the country, who on 12 April 1948 laid the first batch of concrete. In 1953 the construction work of Hirakud dam was completed and was inaugurated on 13th of January 1957 by Jawaharlal Nehru itself. In 1956 agricultural irrigation along with power generation was started which in the year 1966 achieved complete potential.
Purpose Served by Hirakud DamIrrigation facility to 1,08,385 Hectors of Rabi crops and 1, 55,635 Hectors of Kharif crops of Bolangir, Subarnapur, Bargarh and Sambalpur is being provided by the project. More than 436,000 hectors of land in Mahanadi delta also gets irrigated by the water which is released from the power house. The capacity of power generation installed of Hirakud dam is 307.5 MW with its two power houses built up at Chiplima and Burla. The delta area in Cuttack and Puri district of an area of 9500 sq Kms also gets the flood protection because of the Hirakud Project. During winter season the site of Hirakud turns out to be a congregation centre for migratory birds. Jawahar Marg, a water tower with a revolving platform which provides a panoramic view of the Dam is also located near the dam. To check the massive flood affecting a large part of coastal Odisha was the actual purpose of the Hirakud Dam but the construction of the dam also affected immensely the natives of western part of Odisha in many ways. The Hirakud project affected around 150,000 people sand about 20,000 families were relocates because of the dam project construction work. People residing at the present location of the dam were evacuated without any compensation, and this was the only major disadvantage of this gigantic project.
History of Hirakud DamIn the year 1937 the efforts were commenced to start off the project. The disastrous floods in 1937 were the reason that got the idea of having this Dam project and the proposal for thorough investigation of the storage reservoirs of the Mahanadi basin was then given by the architect of Oriya engineer M. Visveswararya. To tackle the problems of floods in Mahanadi delta was the prime target of the project. In 1945 Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, who was the Member of Labour in Govt. of India during that time took the decision to utilize the potentiality of river Mahanadi in the most fruitful ways and the Central Water- ways Navigation and Irrigation Commission then took the project. Then Governor of Orissa, Sir Howthrone Lewis led the foundation stone of hirakud Dam on 15th March 1946 and the in June of 1947 the project report was then submitted to Government of India. On 12th April 1948 the Pandit Jawaharalal Neheru led the first lot of concrete and the complete project was then on 13th of January 1957 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru only formally inaugurated the dam. In the year 1966 the project came into fully existence and the supply for the irrigation and power generation started progressively.
Structure of Hirakud DamThe Hirakud Dam is built of several components with a lot of technical composition and formation being used to build the huge structure of Hirakud Dam. Granite, hard concrete and earth are the mostly used substances in building the gigantic structure of the Hirakud Dam. Stretched from the Chandidungri hills on the right to the Lamdungri hills on left the main structure of Hirakud Dam is about 4.8 km long. About 83400 Sq. Km is the Catchments area and the dam is a composite structure of Concrete, Masonry and Earth. 21.0 Km. long earthen dykes flank the both right and left sides of the dam. Due of the presence of the biggest artificial lake of Asia at Hirakud Dam, it is hence popular for it as well. The lake is said to be a reservoir which is spread over an area of 743.0 Km. The Hirakud dam is also the longest Dam of Asia and is around 25.8 km long
Important Specifications about Hirakud DamConstruction Type: Composite structure of Earth,Concrete & Masonry
Latitude: 21° -32' N
Longitude: 83°-52'-30” E
Length of Dam: 4,800 M.
Length of Left dyke in five gaps: 9,337 M
Length of Right dyke in one stretch: 10,759 M
Maximum Height of Dam: 60.96 M
Total earth work in Dam: 18.1 M.Cum
Total quantity of concrete & masonry: 1.07 M.Cum
Top level of Dam: R.L.195.68 M
Bed rock: Hard granite gneiss
Power Channel at Hirakud DamThe Hirakud Dam has a 22.4 km long power channel, at Chiplima 72.00 MW electricity is generated per day and at Burla around 235.50MW power generated per day. The revolving towers Jawahar Minar on the southern side and Gandhi Minar at the northern end provide the perfect view of the mighty Hirakud dam along with the incredible expanse of water can also be enjoyed from these towers. The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Security Forces, Hirakud, grants the permission to visit the Dam site. Due to security concerns, photography is strictly prohibited on the Dam site.
Cattle Island at Hirakud DamCattle Island is one of the natural wonders of Hirakud, locatedted at one of the extreme points of the Dam. The Cattle Island is very much famous for the wild cattle which are found on the island based upon which the name of the island is also the “Cattle Island”. Located at about 90 km from Sambalpur the Cattle Island is situated near the Kumarbandh village of Belpahar-Banharpali range. Before construction of Dam, it was a developed village and people residing there were forced to migrate due to the construction work taking place there. It is said that the villagers residing there left the cattle while migrating and which now have developed into huge numbers.
These cattle are much huger in size and are also wild in compare to the ones which live in the human surrounding. The reason for theses cattle being wild is believed to be the distance which they have been from the residing land of humans. As the time passed the nearby area got filled up due to the reservoir water, which then turned the hilltop into the shape of an island and hence no human interference was there in this island. These cattle are basically found to be of white in color and are also not caught by the villagers after making several attempts. The cattle found on the Cattle Island are totally against that of the picture which pet cattle portray.
Hirakud Boat DisasterOn the 9th of February 2014 an accident took place in the Reservoir of the Hirakud Dam. A boat which was carrying about 115 passengers capsized in the reservoir and as per the reports 31 people lost their lives. The exact location of the accident is believed to be the Pitapali area inside the Hirakud reservoir where the motorboat capsized after water entered into it following a snag.
According to the eyewitnesses of the incident, passengers jumped off the boat in panic as they failed in draining out the water from the boat. Later on it was found in investigations that the motorboat did not have basic safety measures and that led to the accident. The fire fighters unit of the Rapid Action Forces was implied for the rescue operations along with a team of scuba divers were also bought at the spot to save the lives of victims.