One of the striking features of the Tehri Dam is that it is one among the very few embankment dams in the country. The construction material for the dam has been devised by making use of various types of rocks and earth fillings. This has been done so keeping in view the possible erosion that the surrounding atmosphere can cause to the dam. By making use of the rock and sand embankment, the dam has been rendered waterproof to prevent erosion.
The Tehri Dam is one among the biggest dams in the country and even the world. It is eight hundred and fifty feet high and five hundred seventy five meters long. It has been constructed for a mega power project under the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation. When operational, the dam is likely to generate 2000 MW of power.
The Tehri Dam is built across the river Bhagirathi, a tributary of the Ganga, was brought into the project stage in 1961. It was initially conceived to generate 600 MW of hydroelectric power. The actual construction of the dam began in the year 1978. There were several delays in the construction of the dam owing to protests from the local population over their displacement. Further, the acute shortage of funds for the project caused more delays. Even though, the project received financial aid from the USSR, the fund flow ended owing to the political turmoil that erupted in that nation. Thereafter, the Indian Government formed the Tehri Hydel Development Corporation Ltd., which was a joint undertaking between the Central Government and the state of Uttar Pradesh.
There were several changes made in the design of the project and thus this became a mega project capable of generating 2000 MW power. As per the design of the project, the power generation that makes use of pumped storage water is to be commissioned in early 2016.
Within the Tehri Dam lies the Koteshwar Dam that is capable of generating 400 MW of hydroelectric power. Along with the generation of power, the fully functional Tehri Dam will be capable of providing irrigational water to six lakh seventy thousand acres of land. The project is also slated drinking water on a daily basis to several areas of Delhi and several cities of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
As quoted above, the prime delay in the execution of the project was owing to the protest against the construction of the Tehri Dam. The protest was staged at the national as well as the international levels. The very construction of the dam at the foothills of the Himalayas was questioned and debated upon by several leading environmental groups. They carried the firm opinion that an earthquake of higher magnitude would wreck havoc over a vast area owing to the collapse of the dam and the deluge of the water that would ensue.
The displacement of the inhabitants of several villages amounting to nearly one lakh people and the destruction of the sanctity of the Bhagirathi River are further reasons for the protest against the dam.
At present, the project is generating up to three thousand million units of power every day.