Major and Medium Water Resources Projects in the Mahanadi Basin  

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Given the large size of the Mahanadi basin and plenty of available water, it is natural that a number of projects have been constructed for utilization of these resources.


Hirakud Dam

Hirakud is one of the earliest and prestigious major multi-purpose river valley projects in India after independence. Commissioned in 1957, the reservoir is situated a little downstream of the confluence of Mahanadi with its tributary Ib, 15 km upstream of Sambalpur town. Situated within the geographical ordinates of 21° 30' and 21° 50' N, and 83° 30' and 84° 05' E, the reservoir has a water spread area of 719.63 km2 at FRL. The 1,248 m long masonry dam is 61 m high and this, along with the earthen dams, has a combined length of 25.8 km. At the dam site, the maximum annual runoff was 91,900 Mm3 while the minimum annual runoff was 12,400 Mm3. The total catchment area up to the dam is 83,400 km2. With gross storage capacity of 5,818 Mm3, this is one of the biggest reservoirs.  The spillway capacity at FRL is 41,428 cumec.


The average annual rainfall in the region is 152 cm.  More than 65% of the vast catchment area stretching over the central Indian plateau is fertile land area.


Salient features of Hirakud reservoir

Elevation at FRL

192.024 m

Elevation at DSL

179.830 m

Gross storage capacity

8,136 Mm3

Live storage capacity

5,818 Mm3

Dead storage capacity

2,318 Mm3

Water spread area at FRL

719.63 km2

Length of the masonry dam

1,248 m

Number of sluices


Number of crest gates


Crest level of spillway dam

185.928 m

Maximum spillway capacity

41,428 cumec


The project has been designed to serve three purposes, namely flood control, irrigation and power. In addition it was planned to supplement supplies to the old irrigation system in the Mahanadi delta.  Now, the reservoir serves the irrigation needs of 2,640.38 km2 of land. The water released through power house irrigates further 4,360 km2 of CCA in Mahanadi delta. A hydropower plant at the dam has 307.5 MW of installed capacity. Besides, the reservoir produces a fish crop of 350 ton every year. The reservoir space is also used to provide flood protection to 9,500 km2 of delta area in district of Cuttack and Puri.


Ravishankar Sagar

The Ravishankar Sagar project (RSP) dam was constructed in 1978 on the Mahanadi River, at 20° 38' N, 81° 34' E. RSP is about 92 km south of the city of Raipur. It is a multi-purpose reservoir which serves irrigation, hydro-electric power-generation and the industrial requirements of the Bhilai Steel Plant. At the FRL of 348.7 m, the reservoir surface area is 95.40 km2. The total catchment area is estimated at 3,620 km2, of which 625 km2 is intercepted by the upstream dam, Dudhawa and 486 km2 by Murumsilli reservoir. At full level, the reservoir storage capacity is 909 Mm3. The maximum depth of the reservoir is about 32 m.

The off-taking channels carry water in the order of 11,000 to 30,000 cumec in the peak season. However, the outlets are rarely completely closed. Water level fluctuates by 3 to 5 m in a year. The sediments of Ravishankar Sagar are poor in nutrients and organic matter.


Dudhawa Reservoir

The Dudhawa reservoir is situated at 81° 45' 21" E longitude and 20° 18' 1" N latitude across Mahanadi River near Dudhawa village about 21 km west of Sihawa near the origin of Mahanadi river and 29 km east of Kanker. The reservoir is in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh state. The construction of the project started in 1953-54 and it was commissioned in 1963-64. This reservoir is designed to supply water to Ravishankar Sagar Project complex thereby increasing its irrigation potential. Water will also be provided to additional culturable areas under the command of the existing Mahanadi Tandula canal system. The maximum height of this earthen dam is 24.53 m and length is 2,906.43 m. Two subsidiary bunds of the dam have heights of 6.61 m and 2.83 m and lengths 568.42 and 426.70 m, respectively. The catchment area of the reservoir is 625.27 km2 and gross command area is 566.80 km2. At the Full Reservoir Level (FRL), the submergence area of the reservoir is 44.80 km2.


Sondur Reservoir

The Sondur reservoir is constructed at 82° 6' E longitude and 20° 14' N latitude across Sondur River a tributary of Mahanadi. Located near Gram Machka, Nagri block, Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh state, the dam was constructed in the year 1988. The catchment area of Sondur River up to the dam site is 518 km2. Major portion of the catchment lies in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh and Koraput district of Orissa state. Sondur project comprises of a 3.33 km long composite dam. This consists of a 191.25 m long masonry dam at the center which includes overflow and non overflow portions; the rest is earthen dam at both the flanks. The spillway has 5 radial gates of size 15m ´ 10m each. Irrigation sluice is provided at the left flank.


The project is also designed to supply water to RSP complex through Dudhawa reservoir thereby augmenting the irrigation potential of RSP complex for irrigation. It would also provide irrigation to about 122.60 km2 of Kharif and Rabi crops in Sihawa Nagri block. The designed rate of sedimentation in gross storage is 0.357 mm /year.


Anicuts built on Mahanadi and Baitarani Systems are functional as part of Orissa Canal system, which currently irrigates 3,500 km2 in Mahanadi and Baitarani basins mostly and also in Brahmani basin by exporting water from Mahanadi.  Two of the canals of “Orissa Canal System” starting from Birupa weir (on Birupa River, a branch of Mahanadi River) namely Kendrapara and Pattamundai canals start from the right of the river and proceed to irrigate to the right of Birupa. The third, High Level Canal, Range I originating from the Left of the weir crosses Birupa-Brahmani watershed to enter the Brahmani basin.


Two tributaries, namely Ong and Tel, join Mahanadi downstream of Hirakud dam. Both these carry large volumes of flow during monsoons. The average monsoon runoff at Tikarpara site is 65,636.00 MCM. In absence of any large storage dam lot of flow of Mahanadi goes to the sea and a small portion is utilized in Mahanadi delta. There is an imperative need for construction of a large terminal storage to conserve the precious resource and utilize it to meet the reasonable needs of the basin and transfer the surplus to water short areas. A dam site at Manibhadra dam has been identified and investigated but no progress seems to have been made. Opposition to the proposed dam is on account of large population displacement and other reasons. Live storage capacity of the proposed dam is 6,000 Mm3. Studies have shown that Mahanadi has surplus water (Govt. of Orissa has not agreed with this conclusion) that is proposed to be transferred from Manibhadra reservoir to the Dowlaiswaram barrage on the Godavari. In fact, the proposed Manibhadra dam is the starting point of the peninsular component of NWDA’s ILR proposal.


Hasdeo Bango

Minimata Hasdeo Bango is a multipurpose storage reservoir on Hasdeo River, tributary of Mahanadi River, 70 km from Korba, in Korba District, Chhatisgarh. The catchment area at the dam is 6,730 km2. The masonry gravity dam is 87 m high. The FRL and the MDDL of the reservoir are 359.66 m and 329.79 m and it has a live storage capacity of 3,040 MCM. Mean annual inflow to the reservoir is 3,540 MCM. The power house has 3 units of 40 MW each and a firm power of 20 MW.



This is an important project of Chattisgarh state. The dam is located in Balod tehsil of Durg district at about 5 km from the Balod city. A dam was completed on the confluence of Sukha Nala and Tandula River in 1921, with a catchment area of 827.2 sq. km. The gross, live, and dead storage capacities of the reservoir are 312.25 MCM, 302.28 MCM and 99.67 MCM respectively.  For the reservoir, the highest flood level, the FRL, and MDDL are 333.415 m, 332.19 m, and 320.445 m. A canal takes of from the dam to provide irrigation to 68,219 ha of Kharif crop. Main canal and distributaries run for about 110 km and the length of minors is 880 km. The monsoon rainfall in the command is about 1,293 mm.


In the 1950s, it was realized that the Tandula reservoir is unable to meet the demands of the command and hence a reservoir, named Gondali reservoir, was created on Jujhara Nala in 1957 and a supplementary canal of 9 km length was constructed to supply water from Gondali reservoir to Tandula reservoir. After construction of Bhilai Steel Plant in 1956, water is being supplied to this plant from the Gondali reservoir and supply for irrigation has been stopped.