Durgapur Barrage – the silent spectator of Durgapur rising into prominence and becoming one of the fastest growing industrial towns of Eastern India is an important attraction of the city. The Durgapur Barrage at a distance of just 3 Km from the Durgapur railway station and 7 Km from City Centre Durgapur is one of the most popular picnic spot for the people of the city.
History of Durgapur Barrage
The Durgapur Barrage across river Damodar at Durgapur was constructed way back in 1955 as an attempt to control the fury of the Damodar River during rainy season.
River Damodar – known as the “Sorrow of Bengal” is responsible for causing floods of varying intensities and magnitude. The Damodar Valley has been ravaged frequently by floods and the first of the major recorded flood dates back to 1730. Thereafter serious floods occurred at regular intervals. But it was the devastating flood of 1943 that resulted in the Governor of Bengal appointing a Board of Inquiry headed by the Maharaja of Burdwan and the noted physicist Dr. Meghnad Saha as member.
The Government of India then appointed Mr. W.L. Voorduin, a senior engineer of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of United States of America to make recommendations for comprehensive development of the valley so as to gain some control of the fury of the River Damodar. Accordingly, in August, 1944, Mr. Voorduin submitted his “Preliminary Memorandum on the Unified Development of the Damodar River”.
Mr. Voorduin’s “Preliminary Memorandum” suggested a multipurpose development plan designed for achieving flood control, irrigation, power generation and navigation in the Damodar Valley. Four consultants appointed by the Government of India examined it. They also approved the main technical features of Voorduin’s scheme and recommended early initiation of construction beginning with Tilaiya to be followed by Durgapur, Konar, Maithon and Panchet.
Now to give the whole plan a concrete shape, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was formed on 7 July 1948 as the first multipurpose river valley project of independent India.
Durgapur Barrage, constructed downstream of all the dams, on River Damodar or its tributary Barakar River was built by the DVC in 1955. The construction work was started in 1952. However the Durgapur Barrage and the canal network, was handed over to the Government of West Bengal in 1964.
About Durgapur Barrage
Strategically located Durgapur Barrage connecting the districts of Burdwan and Bankura is a type of low-head, diversion dam which consists of a number of large gates that can be opened or closed to control the amount of water passing through it.
While the term “Barrage” is a French word meaning a dam, however there are certain differences between a barrage and a dam. According to the World Commission on Dams, a key difference between a barrage and a dam is that a dam is built for water storage in a reservoir, which raises the level of water significantly. A barrage is built for diverting water, and raises the water level only a few feet. Also barrages are generally built on flat terrain across wide and meandering river; a dam is built on hilly areas.
The 692 m long Durgapur Barrage has 34 gates that regulates and stabilizes the river water elevation upstream for use in irrigation and other purposes. The gates are set between flanking piers which are responsible for supporting the water load of the pool created.
The Durgapur barrage holds the key to water management after it flows in from the Maithon and Panchet dams of DVC (see map). The barrage is state government property. Due to lack of dredging, the barrage’s core zone has got silted to a dangerous extent. Its water bearing capacity has reduced drastically. According to the irrigation department officer, large-scale silting in the Damodar near the barrage has shrunk the water storage capacity.
DVC officials confirmed that when the Durgapur barrage was constructed, it could handle close to 2.5 lakh cusecs of water discharged from the upstream dams. The capacity has now came down to a little more than 1 lakh cusecs.
In August last year, the union water resource minister Mr. Harish Rawat in a communication to MP, Burdwan-Durgapur,
Mr. Saidul Haq informed that centre is closely scrutinising a project aimed at de-silting the River Damodar near Durgapur Barrage. To read the whole news on the issue, click HERE.
Durgapur Barrage – a major picnic spot
The Durgapur Barrage is a major picnic spot for the people of Durgapur and its adjoining areas. During the winter months; especially in the month of December and January you will hardly find a day when there is a shortage of picnic party.
Being located very close to the centre of the Durgapur city, the Durgapur Barrage provides an excellent pleasure excursion option for those people who want to return their home on same day. For the people of Durgapur – the city with a cosmopolitan culture a picnic at Durgapur barrage is seen as a great way for the family and friends to get together in a relaxed and entertaining natural environment.
Apart from spending a lot of time on the vast expanse of sand on river bed by playing, walking or simply taking a sun-bath, people can also take a boat ride to reach the villages on the other side. An adjacent park is an added attraction of the barrage.
Durgapur Barrage – a major tourist attraction
The Durgapur Barrage has been a major tourist attraction of Durgapur for years. The phenomenal sight of water torrent gushing out of the lock-gates from heights is just awe inspiring. If you continue to look for some time without interruption, you will definitely have a dizzying effect. The best time to visit the barrage at Durgapur is the monsoon season when the river Damodar bulges and most of the lock gates are opened.
Though Durgapur Barrage is an example of man’s attempt of controlling the fury of nature, but the view of the gushing water or the natural splendor of the surrounding areas is bound to make every visitor spell bound.
A few yards away from the main barrage is a canal. There is a short foot bridge over it. Try crossing with a lock gate open. It will definitely have a wobbly effect.
Earlier Durgapur Barrage has a good reputation for being a great spot for bird-watching in the winters. Though the number of birds have decreased significantly in last 20 years, but if you go in the early morning you can still see lots of birds of varying species.
Durgapur Barrage – an observation
Durgapur Barrage has a great potentiality as a tourist and picnic spot. All that is needed is a little bit of planning and initiative by the local administration.