India’s first Rubber Dam constructed across Jhanjhavathi River in Parvathipuram was inaugurated on 1st January 2006 by then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Mr. Y.S. Rajsekhara Reddy. It is also an inter-state project as the River originates in Odisha. The successful opening of the project was an exceptional achievement by the state government and a symbol of progress in an area which had been a strong hold of Naxalites for decades.

The installation of Rubber Dam was a temporary measure taken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh as the construction of a fully fledged dam was opposed by the State Government of adjoining state close to the site- Odisha. The construction of a complete embankment dam would have submerged at least three to five villages in Odisha and thus it was opposed by the State Government.

The Rubber Dam across Jhanjhavathi supports an irrigational area of around 10000 hectares with a network of canals and distributaries.

Location of Jhanjhavathi Rubber Dam in India

The Jhanjhavathi Rubber Dam is located at Rajyalakshmipuram village in a northern coastal district of Andhra Pradesh- Vizianagaram; across the River Jhanjhavathi. Jhanjhavathi is a main tributary of Nagavali River; both of the rivers originate in the adjoining state of Odisha.

Vizianagaram is around 60 km from Vishakhapatnam; which is a major seaport; also Vizianagaram is well connected by trains and buses to many other important cities.

The Beginning and Proposal

The Jhanjhavathi Project was a medium irrigation project began as early as 1976 by the Andhra Government for the benefit of 10000 hectares of land in the backward district of Vizianagaram. The project was divided into three classes based on the extent of the land benefitted, i.e. Major (>10000 ha), Medium (between 2000 ha to 10000 ha) and Small (< 2000 ha).

An agreement was finally settled between the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for the utilization of the 4 TMC of the water on half-half basis. Despite the agreement there were unsettled land acquisition disputes over the submergence of villages on Odisha side.

The financial compensation offered by the Government of Andhra Pradesh was not acceptable to the government of Odisha and any amicable settlement could not be reached for nearly four decades. The officials and agriculturists of Andhra started consulting globally for feasible solutions.

The solution came up in the form of a Rubber Dam which would immediately benefit an area of 5000 ha without posing a submersion threat to any of the villages in Odisha. According to the proposal a Rubber Dam was to be build across Jhanjhavathi River Gap by a diversion arrangement which would successfully avoid the submergence of any Odisha villages.

However the Rubber Dam was only conceived as a temporary arrangement till a solution is reached between the two governments over the disputes and the original dam is build; in which case the Rubber Dam may be shifted to other location for similar purposes.

 

The Original Dam

The original dam for which the Rubber Dam was built as a substitute is an Earthen Dam with a length of 4.07 km and a catchment area of 325 sq. miles. The Spillway length of the main dam is 89.5 mtr with 6 Radial Gates (12 M X 11 M).

The reservoir of the dam has a gross storage capacity of 4 TMC and a Full Reservoir Level (F.R.L) of 146.2 mtr. The Free Board of the dam is 3 mtr. Free Board of a dam is the distance between the top of the dam and maximum water level on the reservoir side.

Rubber Dam- Functioning and Specifications

The Rubber Dam Technology was developed in early 1950s and has been in use to control water flow for over five decades. This kind of dam offers low maintenance cost and versatility. The Rubber Dam across Jhanjhavathi fitted as a Pre-Fabricated Dam by Hydro-Construct, Austria.

The Rubber Dam across Jhanjhavathi resembles a cylindrical cycle tube placed across a stream or channel; which can be inflated to store water and deflated to release it. The rubber is 10 mm thick and is bullet proof; reinforced with three layers of Nylon mesh.

The dam is water filled i.e. for inflation water is released into the dam and for deflation; water is released out of the dam. The length of the Rubber Dam is 60 meters with a height of 3.5 meters and is designed to store 0.6 Tmcft of water. The water stored by Rubber Dam is diverted to the canals by river sluices.

Lift irrigation is also established with head at 17 mtr and use three pumps of 650 HP. The total cost of the installation and maintenance contract of the Rubber Dam was INR Rs. 10 Crores.

Dispute and Its Effects

The initial agreement between the governments of Andhra and Odisha was to permit the reservoir level up to 150 mtr above mean sea level. However, this would have submerged area under Odisha’s boundary and the matter is still not resolved; as the compensation granted by Andhra Pradesh is not acceptable to the Odisha Government.

 

Presently the water is stored to a height of 125 mtr by the Rubber Dam and the reservoir capacity is reduced to 0.6 Tmcft against the planned 4 Tmcft which would have been beneficial to nearly 9,970 ha of land.

Advantages of the Rubber Dam

Following are the major advantages of the Jhanjhavathi Rubber Dam and of any other Rubber Dam for that matter-

  • Provides immediate alternate solution to conventional dams.
  • Immediate relief by providing irrigation to at least 5000 ha of land.
  • Avoids submergence of land and villages.
  • Rubber Dams are reusable at another location.
  • Low installation and maintenance costs.
  • Automatic operation not requiring any manual operation.
  • Low corrosion risk due to absence of mechanical parts.
  • Does not require lubricants thereby posing no threat to the environment.
  • Low cost of operation.
  • High life expectancy.

FAQs about First Rubber Dam in India

Q1) Where is the first Rubber Dam of India located?

Ans- The Jhanjhavathi Rubber Dam is located at Rajyalakshmipuram village in a northern coastal district of Andhra Pradesh- Vizianagaram; across the River Jhanjhavathi.

Q2) Across which river is the Rubber Dam built?

Ans- The dam is build across Jhanjhavathi River.

Q3) When was the first Rubber Dam inaugurated in India?

Ans- The first Rubber Dam in India was inaugurated on 1st January 2006.

Q4) Who inaugurated the Rubber Dam?

Ans- The dam was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Mr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Q5) How much irrigational area is supported by the dam?

Ans- An area of around 5000 hectares is irrigated by the Rubber Dam.

Q6) Which major project was the Rubber Dam a part of?

Ans- The Rubber Dam was a part of ‘Jhanjhavathi Medium Irrigation Project’.

Q7) How much was the water storing capacity of the originally proposed dam?

Ans- The water storage capacity of the originally proposed dam was around 4 TMC.

Q8) What is the total length and catchment area of the main dam?

Ans- Total length and catchment area of the dam are 4.07 km and 325 square miles respectively.

Q9) What is the total length of Rubber Dam?

Ans- Total length of the Rubber Dam is 60 mtr in two spans.

Q10) Which company fitted the Jhanjhavathi Rubber Dam?

Ans- The Pre-Fabricated Dam was constructed by Hydro Construct, Austria.

Q11) What is the thickness of the rubber?

Ans- The Rubber of the dam has a thickness of 10 mm.

Q12) What is the height of the Rubber Dam?

Ans- The height of the Rubber Dam is 3.5 meters.

Q13) How much water is stored by Rubber Dam?

Ans- The storage capacity of the Rubber Dam is 0.6 Tmcft.

Q14) How much was the total installation cost of the dam?

Ans- The cost of the dam was INR 10 crores including the installation and maintenance cost.

Q15) How much area would have been benefitted by the original dam?

Ans- The original dam would have benefitted an area of 9970 hectares.

Q16) State few advantages of the Rubber Dam.

Ans-  Few advantages of the Rubber Dam are-

  • Provides immediate alternate solution to conventional dams.
  • Immediate relief by providing irrigation to at least 5000 ha of land.
  • Avoids submergence of lands and villages.
  • Rubber Dams are also reusable at another location.