Hirakud Dam

Hirakud Dam

Hirakud Dam is the longest dam of the world and one of the biggest dams of India. The dam is build across the Mahanadi river. It is situated about 15 kilometres from Sambalpur in the state of Odisha, India. 


Location: Sambalpur, Odisha
River: Mahanadi
Type: Composite dam and reservoir
Height: 261.96 m
Length: 25.8 km 
Total Capacity: 5,896,000,000 Cube meter
Power Generation: 347.5 MW

Hirakud Dam is one of the first significant multipurpose river valley projects started just after independence. The project cost in 1953 was 100 crore equivalent to 7,000 crore in 2018.

Construction History

Mazumdar Committee was appointed by the government in 1952 to consider the feasibility of the project. The committee has estimated the costs to be ₹92.80 crore for the project, keeping in mind that it would help 1,347,000 acres of land to be irrigated and that 48 GW of electric power generation.

The Hirakud dam project was completed in 1953 and inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 January 1957. The total cost of the project was exceeded to ₹100.2 crore(equivalent to ₹75 billion or US$1.1 billion in 2018) in 1957. Power generation along with agricultural irrigation using the dam was started in 1956, achieving its full potential in 1966.


The Hirakud Dam is a composite structure of earth, concrete and masonry dam situated 10 km north to the city of Sambalpur. It is the longest major earthen-gravity filled dam in India, leaning about  25.8 km including dykes.

The main portion of the dam has an overall length of 4.8 km between two hills; the Laxmidungri and the Chandili Dunguri. The dam is flanked by 21 km of dykes on both the left and right sides. Hirakud is also the biggest artificial lake in India with a reservoir holding 743 square kilometre at full capacity.

Power Generation

The dam has two different hydroelectric power houses. Power House I is located at the base of the main dam section and contains 3 x 37.5 MW turbine and 2 x 24 MW turbine generators for an power generation capacity of 259.5 MW. Power Station II is located 19 km south east at Chipilima having 3 x 24 MW generators, with overall capacity of 347.5 MW.

Canals For Irrigation

Three canals are originated from Hirakud Dam, that are Bargarh Main Canal, Sason Canal and Sambalpur Canal. Out of three Bargarh main canal is the significant one and help thousands of farmers and thousand hector of land.

The construction of the canal system began during construction of Hirakud Dam 1950s. Now the canal helps irrigates in many districts like Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Bolangir and Sonepur for irrigation during summer and winter varies.


The main purpose of the Hirakud Dam was to block the massive floods due to Mahanadi river affecting a large part of coastal Odisha. But, the construction of the dam highly affected the native people near Sambalpur. Nearly 150,000 people and  approximately 22,000 families were displaced.  A huge number of families were evacuated from their homes without any compensation from 1956 onwards.

Other Important Facts

  • Hirakud Dam’s water at a later stage was allocated to various industries like mineral processing and coal fired thermal power plants in sambalpur and jharsuguda districts.
  • The Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is located near Hirakud Dam.Many species of migratory birds visit the reservoir during winter.
  • A commemorative stamp on Hirakud Dam was released by the Department of Posts, on29 Oct 1979 , with denomination 30 paise and nearly 3,000,000 stamps issued.
  • A hundred rupee note was also issued on 26 December 1960 by RBI Governor H.V.R. Iyengar on Hirakud Dam.
  • A Beautiful Cattle Island is located in one of the extreme points of Hirakud Dam, inhabited by wild animals, it is without any trace of humans. The island is present near Kumarbandh village of Belpahar-Banharpali range which is about 90 km from Sambalpur.
  • There has been plans by Odisha government for inter-basin water transfer as part of India’s ambitious Indian Rivers Inter-link.
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