Are Big Dams Necessary ??

Jan 25 • Group Discussion • 4255 Views • 4 Comments on Are Big Dams Necessary ??

India holds a strong position in the list of large dam building countries after US and China.According to the World Commission on dams: Over the last 50 years, India has built more than 1500 BIG DAMS. In a survey it was found that in 1947, there were around 300 Big dams in India, And Today, there are almost 4,300 Big dams in our country.
Throughout the history of the world, Big dams have been used successfully in collecting, storing and managing water needed to sustain civilization. It have been playing an important role of harnessing the river waters for accelerating socio-economic growth and mitigating occurance of floods and droughts. Water is essential for the development of the industries and agriculture. The primary benefit of Big dams is the water supply for domestic and industrial use. Other key benefits are:

  • Meeting the agricultural demand
  • Irrigation
  •  Hyrdo power Generation
  •  Inland Navigation
  •  Recreation
    Now question arises Are Big Dams indeed required?
    With rain being sporadic because of rainy seasons and variations between different parts of the country, the idea of storing river water in reservoirs behind BIG dams seemed to be a great solution but the question is whether it is ethical to generate Hydro power from big dams and high economic growth on the sacrifice of the underprivileged? The resurgent hydropower sector promises to generate electricity but at the same time threatens to uproot communities, destroy their livelihoods and river ecosystems on which millions depend. Lets take an Example of Sardar Sarovar dam which is the Largest dam and a Large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectricity but at the same time it is one of India’s most Controversial dam projects because of its environmental ,safety impacts and socio-economic issues.  


  • 16 million Indian people have been forced from their homes because of construction of big dams and not enough resettlement sites have been set up for the amount of people already displaced.
  •  Big dams causes Earthquakes (bcos of the weight of water in reservoirs), release Greenhouse gas (bcos of rotting of flooded vegetation)
  • Environmental Impacts:-
  • Threat to aquatic habitat –barriers for fish passage, water quality is affected because of change in land use can also affect aquatic life
  •  Water logging – excess water in the soil can render the soil useless
  •  Salinisation – When the land to be irrigated is an arid area and not used to so much water then irrigation water has more saline content and adds more salt to the system
  •  Deforestation– Big Dams are now occupying forests.
  • Health Impacts:-
    Outbreak of diseases – the concern of an increase in malaria because of the increased reservoirs and water logged lands, which are prime locations for mosquitoes to breed.

The fact is that the problems with large dams are many and serious, they won’t go away—and neither will controversies so Alternatives should be promoted and brought into use as much as possible through spreading the wisdom of traditional Water Harvesting techniques in most drought-prone areas and start working with cities, towns to install Rainwater harvesting structures on rooftops all over India. Lastly we must realise that there are no unlimited sources of energy, so we must at some point limit consumption of electricity and use it more efficiently!

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4 Responses to Are Big Dams Necessary ??

  1. patlakshi says:

    There are often, better, cheaper, less destructive alternatives to building a dam, whether to meet energy or water need or to reduce the impacts from flood. Today 98% sediment remains behind the dam which results drop in soil productivity and depth.

  2. Pallavi sinha says:

    There are always a pros n cons of everything and this article totally focused about the benefit n loss of Dams…..but from my point dams are helping in strengthen the economy a lot and in India it is too much beneficial specially for irrigation purpose as the main occupation is farming here and also to generate electricity (lots of villages are suffering from lack of electricity supply), etc.. Against of all these benefits the minor losses can be neglected.

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