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Multi-purpose River Projects

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Multi-purpose River Projects - Lesson Summary

People have always felt the need to store river water in the rainy season for use in the dry season. People in ancient India built many hydraulic structures like dams, artificial lakes, tanks and canals to store and divert water for irrigation.

A dam is a structure that forms a barrier across a river to regulate the flow of water. Dams can be classified into several types based on their height and material used for construction. We have built many large dams across major rivers in India.

The primary purpose of dams has always been to provide water for irrigation. Modern dams are also used to generate electricity and to supply water to industries and households. Dams are used to control flooding in flood-prone areas by regulating the flow of water downstream.

The reservoirs created behind several dams are used for breeding fish. Dams can also be used to divert water into existing smaller streams to promote inland navigation. Several dams are popular tourist attractions and recreation spots. Dams are called multi-purpose river projects due to the many ways that they offer to manage our water resources. A dam creates an enormous reservoir of water that submerges vast stretches of the surrounding area.

Major benefits of large multi-purpose projects go to big landowners and industrialists, while the local, poor, landless people have little to gain. Better irrigation facilities attract farmers to grow more water-intensive commercial crops, leading to over-irrigation and increase in soil salinity. Construction of dams cause ecological problems as well like these block the migration of fish, upsetting the ecological balance and putting several aquatic species in danger.

The sudden release of large quantities of water from dams results in large-scale flooding in plain areas. Large dams obstruct the free flow of river water, resulting in disputes between different states over water sharing, and also over the sharing of costs and benefits of the project. Environmentalists associate large dams with causing of earthquakes, spread of water-borne diseases and degradation of soil. Most of the multi-purpose river projects in India so far have not met their desired objectives.

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