Chapter

Large Dams in Asia

Part of the series Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research pp 75-100

Date:

Dams, Riparian Settlement and the Threat of Climate Change in a Dynamic Fluvial Environment

A Case Study of the Damodar River, India
  • Kumkum BhattacharyyaAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Central Arkansas Email author 
  • , Michael J. WileyAffiliated withSchool of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

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Abstract

The Damodar River, a subsystem of the Ganga, has always been flood prone. People as well as governments throughout the centuries have dealt with the caprices of this vital water resource, using structures such as embankments, weirs, barrages and dams. Post-independence the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) constructed four multipurpose dams to facilitate regional development and reduce flood hazards. Post-dam hydrographs show decreased monsoon discharges, reduced peak flow and a shifting of peak flow from July to August to September. Despite the DVC dams, the lower valley is still vulnerable to flooding, because the transport capacity of the river has also been reduced. As a result, the frequency of bank full events today is again similar to that observed in the pre-dam period. Because of the control structures once mobile channel char lands have been stabilised and permanently settled by Bangladeshi refugees. These new riparian communities are threatened by the fluvial environment. Changing patterns in riparian land use, fostered by alterations in flow regime, coupled with the long-term prospect of increased rain variability due to climate change, appear to be increasing the risk of rare but devastating floods in the Lower Damodar.

Keywords

Char lands Climate change Communities Dams Damodar Valley Corporation Fluvial environment Hydrology Geomorphology Water resources