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Tehri Dam, Tehri Garhwal Overview

The highest dam in India and one of the highest in the world, Tehri Dam offers a sight that is both astounding and magnificent. It serves as the world's biggest hydro electrical project drawing water from two great rivers of the Himalayas- Bhagirathi and Bhilangana. Tehri Dam is responsible for supplying water for irrigation and daily chores along with the generation of 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity. Apart from serving the village nearby, Tehri Dam also fulfils the purpose of being a great tourist destination in Garhwal. People visit the place to witness the scenic beauty of the hilly area alongside which they get to indulge themselves in activities like jet skiing, water zorbing, and rafting.

Located in the foothills of the Central Himalayan Seismic gap, Tehri Dam is considered one of the world's largest hydroelectric projects. Though its construction has undergone different hurdles, the dam now stands proudly in the Tehri Garhwal region. The place offering a sight of the massive dam with stagnant water and high mountains on all side is easily reachable via well-maintained roads. An example of mindful engineering and architecture, the dam becomes a must visit for anyone seeking adventure in the laps of beauty.

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History of Tehri Dam

The construction of Tehri Dam underwent many ups and downs. In 1961 the preliminary investigation for the project got completed following which 1972 led to the completion of its design. Financial and Social impacts delayed the construction that began in 1978. USSR lent a helping hand in 1986 by providing technical and financial assistance. But soon political instability became the reason for the termination of this aid. Finally, India came into the race and the responsibility was now in the hands of Irrigation Department of Uttar Pradesh.

To manage the construction project Tehri Hydro Development Corporation came into existence. Furthermore, 75% of the findings came from the federal government and 25% from the state. Uttar Pradesh was to finance the entire irrigation project of the Dam. In 1990, due to the reconsideration, the design of the Dam changed into what we see today as one of the tallest dams, the Tehri Dam. Finally, 2006 marked the completion of this dam. In 2012, the other part of this project, Koteshwar Dam met with the roads of completion.

Structure of Tehri Dam

The 855 ft high rock and earth-fill embankment dam, Tehri Dam overlooks the Bhagirathi River. It is 1886 ft in length, 66 ft in crest width, and 3701 ft in base width. The huge dam has a reservoir of 4.0 cubic kilometres with a surface area of 52 km square (20 sq mi). 1,000 MW is the installed hydro capacity of the Dam along with 1,000 MW of pumped storage hydroelectricity. The lower reservoir of pumped storage is created by the downstream Koteshwar Dam. 

The Tehri Dam, the Koteshwar Dam, and the Tehri Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power Plant are all parts of the Tehri Hydropower Complex. The complex is responsible for providing water for irrigation to an area of 270,000 hectares, irrigation stabilization to an area of 600,000 hectares, and last but not the least 270 million imperial gallons of drinking water to the industrialized areas of Uttrakhand, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh on daily basis. The power generated is supplied to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

Tehri Dam Movement or Tehri Dam Andolan

The construction of the dam has been the subject of many protests for different environmentalists and people living nearby. Many scientists objected its construction due to the destruction it might cause. According to them the building of Tehri Dam could make 10,000 people homeless. Furthermore, another reason for objection was its proximity to Himalayan Seismic Gap. The earthquake if ever caused by the gap was capable of destroying 5,00,000 people. 

Arguing over the dam's catastrophic potential to be high against its potential to generate hydro power which was comparatively small, in 1990, Tehri Bandh Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti filed an official petition to put a halt to its construction and sent it to the Supreme Court. This case continued for about ten years in court. Sunderlal Bahuguna underwent many protests against the construction of the Tehri Dam. In 1995, he took the hunger strike until the Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda promised to form a special committee to study and research the potential ecological consequences of the construction of the dam. After the dissatisfaction of the work done by committee, he against went on a hunger strike at Rajghat, this time for seventy-four days.

In December 2000, thousands of local, following the traditional methods, went on a strike and attempted to get them rehabilitation after the construction of the dam. Beaten by police officers, they failed in their attempt. This again brought into the picture Sundarlal Bahuguna along with many followers who went on a strike not only against the dam but also the subsequent failure of government responsibilities. Twenty four people including eleven women were arrested, and the beating of the masses found no end.

In October 2001, people protested against the licensed deforestation of trees which were saved because of the Chipkoo Movement. Government by now was not able to relocate people whose homes were to be flooded away by the Tehri dam's water. In 2004 after the completion of Phase 1, large sections of Tehri submerged. Though the things during its construction went haywire, today, the Tehri Dam stands strongly over the Bhagirathi River fulfilling the water needs of many states.

Activities at Tehri Dam

Water Sports: The pristine waters of the Bhagirathi River serve both the religious as well as the adventure purpose. Boating being the most prevalent on the list, Here you get to-
  • Jet Ski- Jet skiing at beaches only? Nah! Now we have it in the mountains too. You get a chance to Jet ski between the Himalayan Ranges, thanks to the Tehri Lake.
  • Water Ski- Forget skiing on the snow-capped mountains and relish skiing into the waters of Tehri Lake. Hold the rope as tight as you can and splash through the waters of the Bhagirathi.
  • Water Zorbing- Tucked in a transparent ball, left on the surface of the water, you get a chance to walk around the lake having an area of 44sq km. This indeed is a surreal experience to undergo!
  • Live in a House Boat- Based on the concept of Shikaras of Kashmir, here you find houseboats with facilities that of a small guest house.
  • Parasail- Find yourself closer to the mountains while you parasail over the waters of Tehri Lake.
  • Kayaking- Up next, sit in a kayak and move through the violent waters of the river.
  • Rafting- Water Rafting is something that water babies cannot choose to miss. Wear your safety jackets and get ready to raft into the waters of Bhagirathi!

How To Reach Tehri Dam

After reaching Tehri you can book a private cab or take a bus to the Tehri Dam.

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