Compare the advantages and disadvantages of multi-purpose river projects.

With the purpose of irrigating agricultural fields, dams were built to impound rainwater and rivers.

Advantages of Multipurpose River Projects

  • Currently dams are built to serve a multitude of purposes like flood control, electricity generation, water supply for industrial and domestic uses, fish breeding, inland navigation, recreation. 
  • After independence of India, multipurpose river projects were launched with the objective of leading the nation on the path of progress, development and integrated management of water resources.
  • As multipurpose river projects will help in integrating urban economy, rapid industrialization, village economy and agriculture; the first prime minister of India had said dams were akin to temples of modern India.

Disadvantages of Multipurpose River Projects

In the recent past, multi-purpose river projects have received a lot of opposition from various quarters on account of various reasons:

  • Rivers aquatic life has been affected as the natural flow of water is affected creating poor sediment flow, rockier stream beds, deposition of huge quantities of sediments at the bottom of the reservoir.
  • In flood plains, the soil and existing vegetation is submerged due to dams.
  • Aquatic life finds it difficult to migrate.
  • Multipurpose river projects have led to displacement of local communities which led to the rise of social movements like Tehri Dam Andolan, Narmada Bachao Andolan. 
  • In Gujarat, during droughts, there were agitations by the Sabarmati-basin farmers as more priority was given to supply water to urban areas.
  • Few urban centres, industrialists, landowners have benefitted from multipurpose river projects whereas local people have not received much benefits from multi purpose river projects.
  • With respect to sharing the benefits and costs of multi-purpose river projects, Inter-state water disputes have become frequent.

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