Damodar is a small river tributary to the Hugli River. Due to its devastating floods the river is called ‘sorrow of Bengal’. The project has been planned on the pattern of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the United States and is managed through Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC).
The project involves compact, unified multipurpose river basin development programmes, viz., controlling floods, promoting irrigation, improving water supply and drainage,
Generating electric power, facilitating navigation, encouraging afforestation, soil conservation and promoting the growth of agriculture, industry, and tourism in the area.
The project has to be completed in two phases. The first phase programme comprised: (a) four dams at Tilaiya, Konar, Maithon and Panchet Hill with hydel power stations attached to each of them
(except at Konar) with a total capacity of 104 mw, (b) three thermal power stations at Bokaro, Durgapur and Chandrapura with a total capacity of 9,57,000 km, (c) a grid covering 1,280 km of transmission lines, and (d) a barrage at Durgapur with about 2,500 km of irrigation-cum navigation channels. The second phase included construction of four dams at Balphari, Bokaro, Aiyar and Bermo with hydroelectric stations and corresponding extensions to transmission system. Some subsidiary activities like a forestation, soil conservation, and malaria eradication and fisheries development were also to be taken up.
The work under the first phase has been completed. The work under the second phase has been started. The work is continuing on the construction of a thermal station at Mazia (Bankura district) with installed capacity of 3 x 210 mw and a gas turbine station at Maithon with installed capacity of 3 x 30 mw. The progress of the project up-till now has been as follows:
Tilaiya Dam-the construction of this dam has been completed in 1953. It is an all-concrete dam across the Barakar River, about 208 km upstream from its confluence with the Damodar. It is 33 m high and 366 m long with gross storage capacity of 394.7 m cu. m. It will provide irrigation to about 7,500 hectares of agricultural land. The underground power station with installed capacity of 60,000 km will provide cheap power to the mica mines in Kodarma a Hazaribagh.
Konar Dam-this dam was completed in 1955. The dam has been built across the Konar River in Hazaribag district, about 24 km east of the confluence of the Konar with the Damodar. It is an earthen dam with concrete spillway 49 km high and 3,546 m long. It has gross storage capacity of 337 m cu m. which will irrigate about 16,200 hectares of agricultural land. It will also provide cooling water to Bokaro thermal power station. The hydel station located near the dam generates about 40,000 km of electricity.
Maithon Dam-this dam was completed in 1958. It is an earthen dam built across the Barakar River at some distance upstream from the confluence of the Barakar with the Damodar River. It is 56 m high and 4,357 m long with storage capacity of 1,357 m cu m. It provides irrigation to about 50,000 hectares of agricultural land. Besides, the underground power station near the dam generates 60,000 kw of electricity.
Panchet Hill Dam-it has been completed in 1959. It has been built across the Damodar River about 20 km south of the Maithon dam. It is 45 m high and 2,545 m long with gross storage capacity of 1,497 m cu m. It irrigates about 2.75 lakh hectares of agricultural land. The power station near the dam has installed capacity of 40,000 kw of electricity.
This barrage was completed in 1955. It is a concrete dam 12 m high and 672 m long. It receives water from the storage dams and distributes the same through two canals (2,495 km long) which irrigate about 4.75 lakh hectares of area in Barddhaman, Hugli and Haora districts. The right bank main canal is 89 km long and the left bank main canal 137 km long. The latter is constructed mainly for navigation to the Hugli River.
Bokaro Thermal Station-it has installed capacity of 140 mw. An additional unit of 75 mw has since been added to this station. The power station is supplying electricity to the adjoining areas of Bihar and West Bengal.
Durgapur Thermal Power Station-it has one unit of 140 mw and two units of 75 mw. The power station is located near Oyaria railway station. The electricity is used in the adjoining parts of West Bengal and Bihar.
Chandrapura Thermal Power Station-the power station lies 306 km away from Kolkata. It has three units of 140 mw each and two units of 120 mw each.
The Damodar Valley Project has total installed capacity of generating 1,181 mw of electricity and providing irrigation facilities to 5.15 lakh hectares of agricultural area. When fully commissioned it will help in allround development of24,235 square km of adjoining area covering industrial belt of Bihar and West Bengal and rural areas of Patna, Gaya, Shahabad, Singhbhum (Bihar) and Medinipur (West Bengal), districts. The D.V.C. accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the country’s total power output. The major industries located in Jamshedpur, Durgapur, Burnpur and Kulti and the coal mines of Jharia and Raniganj operate with D.V.C. power. A portion of electricity is also utilised in operating trains on the Eastern Railway.
Other benefits of the project include : (a) erosion-resisting structures like Adivasi, Deochanda, Bachhi and Gauria Karma dams built in the catchment area to hold back rain water and prevent gully erosion, (b) scientific regeneration of denuded forests, (c) large-scale plantation of timber, mulberry and other fast growing trees, (d) promotion of culture, (e) development of aquacukure in the reservoirs of the D.V.C. (cukurable area being 20,235 ha; production potential being 800 tones), (0 improvement in the mining of coal, iron ore, bauxite, limestone, mica, etc. (g) development of paper metallurgical, engineering, aluminium, cement and other industries, and (h) promotion of tourism, horticulture and dairying.