The basic purpose of a dam is to retain water for using it for various purposes like- Electricity generation, agriculture and also to meet daily water requirements of settlements. Maharashtra, a state in central India has three major rivers flowing through it- Godavari, Tapti and Krishna. These rivers have a vast network of tributaries drenching the state of Maharashtra.

A dam build on one of the tributaries of the Krishna River – the Koyna River, houses the biggest dam in Maharashtra which is the main subject of this essay. The Koyna River rises in Mahabaleshwar, a hill station and notable tourist spot located on the Sahyadri mountain range of the Western Ghats.

Quick Facts about the Koyna Dam

  • Build on the Koyna River.
  • Located in the Deshmukhwadi village, Koyna Nagar, Satara District, Maharashtra.
  • Located 190 km south west of Pune.
  • 44 Km from Chiplun on Chiplun Karad SH 78.
  • Part of the ‘Koyna Hydroelectric Project’.
  • Biggest Dam in Maharashtra.
  • Completed in 1963, was the first largest civil engineering project post independence.
  • Made of rubble and concrete.
  • Total generation capacity of 1960 MW per day.
  • Largest hydro power generation unit in India.
  • The dam has a height of 103 meters.
  • Spill way is located in centre.
  • Spill way has six flood gates.
  • Provides water for agricultural and domestic purposes.
  • Plays vital role in containing floods during the monsoons.
  • The reservoir of the dam is 50 km in length and 262 feet deep called-Shivsagar Lake.
  • The capacity of reservoir is 105 TMC.
  • Asia’s first and second lake tappings in 1999 and 2012 respectively.
  • In 1967 a 6.5 magnitude earthquake developed some cracks on the dam.
  • Threatened by the encroachments along its backwaters.
  • Future plans of increasing the power generation by 400 MW.

Location

The Koyna Dam is located in the Koyna Nagar, Satara District, surrounded by the Western Ghats. If you are travelling from Chiplun to Karad on the State Highway No. 78, then 44 km (27.3 miles) from Chiplun, is the Koyna Dam located in Deshmukhwadi village. Koyna Nagar is located approximately 60 Km downstream of the Koyna River from its source. The area surrounding the dam is part of Koyna Wildlife sanctuary and is surrounded by lush green and pure locations. The backwaters of the Koyna Dam are also a source of various recreational activities.

 

The Need

Koyna Dam is part of a hydroelectric project constituting of four dams constructed to meet the electricity needs of the state of Maharashtra. Koyna Dam is the largest of them hence the project is named as ‘Koyna Hydroelectric Project’. The dam generates 1960 MW electricity daily and has a water storage capacity of 105 TMC.

The water stored in the nearly 50 Km (Shivasagar Lake) long reservoir of the Koyna Dam is diverted to the remaining dams of the project, due to which Koyna River is also called as ‘The Lifeline of Maharashtra’. The dam caters to the electricity and agriculture needs of the state of Maharashtra. The Koyna Dam has also served the water needs of the neighboring state Karnataka, when the latter faced a water scarcity.

Construction

The land acquisition for the Koyna Dam began in 1956 and the construction was completed in 1963. The Koyna Dam is considered an engineering marvel displaying construction excellence ahead of its time and is also the largest civil engineering project commissioned after the Independence and is run by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board.  The 103 meters high dam houses the largest hydroelectric power station in India with total capacity of 1960 MW. It is made up of rubble-concrete and has 33 floors and having channels for carrying water for irrigational and other purposes.

The spill way (a structure for the controlled release of the water) of the dam is located in the centre having six radial gates. The dam plays a vital role in controlling floods during the monsoon. Across all the stages, a total of 14-18 turbines are operational in the dam.

Threats

There are two major threats to the Koyna Dam as given below-

  • The Earthquakes.
  • Encroachment in the backwaters.

 

The Koyna Dam, since its construction has withstood many earthquakes. In 1967 a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook the Koyna Dam resulting in cracks at some places. This unexpected natural calamity raised the concern for the safety of dam and nearby settlements. Indian scientists have formulated an ambitious project of drilling down a 7 km deep hole to study seismic activities under the earth’s surface.

The administration of the Koyna Dam has recently raised its concern about the increasing human encroachments in the back waters of Koyna Dam. They have recently submitted an affidavit in this regard to the Bombay High court.

Natural Significance of Koyna Dam

When the water of the Koyna River was impounded by the Koyna Dam, a lake 50 km long (31 miles) having a depth of 262 ft was formed. This lake which is technically the reservoir of the Koyna Dam is called the Shivsagar Lake. The Lake is surrounded by serene green fields and forests and is often called as ‘Mini Kashmir’ by some nature lovers and travelers. The lake is also a place for many recreational activities like boating and other sports. The reservoir is surrounded by the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, which is another natural wonder sustained by the Koyna river and the Shivsagar lake.

The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary surrounds the banks of Koyna from its origin to the areas near Koyna Dam. The sanctuary in the Western Ghats sustains many of the endangered and rare species like- Tiger, Bison or Indian Gaur, Barking deer, Leopards apart from many species of birds and reptiles. The backwaters of the Koyna Dam serve as the lifeline of this beautiful landscape which is a marvel of natural diversity and tranquility.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

You can get the answer of these questions under FAQs:

On which River is the Koyna Dam build?

The Koyna Dam is built on the Koyna River, which is rising in Mahabaleshwar, Satara district of Maharashtra.

How to reach Koyna Dam?

Koyna Dam is located 44 km from Chiplun on Chiplun-Karad State Highway No. 78.

In which district/village is the dam located?

In Deshmukhwadi Village, Koyna Nagar, Satara District

How far is Koyna Dam from Mumbai?

The approximate road distance between Mumbai and Koyna Dam is 350 Km.

What is the purpose of the Koyna Dam?

Koyna Dam houses the biggest hydroelectric power generation unit in India, serving the electricity need of the state of Maharashtra.

Which ambitious project is the Koyna Dam a part of?

The ‘Koyna Hydroelectric Project’ with a total installed capacity of 2000 MW.

When was the Koyna Dam built?

The Dam constructed in 1963, was the largest civil engineering project commissioned after independence.

What is the height of the Koyna Dam?

The height of the Koyna Dam is 103 meters.

How many floors does the dam has?

The dam houses 33 floors having spillways for water distribution.

How many flood gates does the dam houses?

The spillway of the dam has six radial gates.

What is the total generation capacity of the dam?

The dam has a total capacity of 1960 MW.

What is the name of the Koyna dam reservoir?

The reservoir of the Koyna Dam is called Shivsagar Lake.

How big is the reservoir?

The Shivsagar Lake spans for nearly 50 kilometers having a depth of 262 feet.

What is the total storage capacity of the reservoir?

Total water storage capacity of the reservoir is 105 TMC (105 billion cubic feet)

Other than power generation what other purposes does it serves?

Supplying water for agriculture and drinking purposes.

How many villages are affected by the dam?

Land acquisition began in 1956 and construction completed in 1963, many of the villagers are still waiting rehabilitation.

How many lake tappings does Koyna Dam has?

The Koyna Dam has two lake tappings and was holding the distinction of Asia’s first and second lake tappings in 1999 and 2012 respectively.