Bargi Dam is one of the first completed Dam out of the chain of 30 major dams to be constructed on Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh, India. The Narmada is the largest river in Madhya Pradesh, flowing towards the west and falling in the Arabian Sea. Its total length is 1312 km of which it covers 1072 km in Madhya Pradesh and the Bargi Dam controls this part of the River Narmada waters. The Central Water and Power Commission decided on the proposal of building this dam in 1968 to enhance irrigation in 2,980 square kilometres and hydropower generation capacity of 105 MW.
Bargi Dam is located on the Jabalpur - Nagpur NH - 7 highway. About 40 kms / 45 mins. from Jabalpur city, Tourist Destination Bargi Dam is built on Narmada river. Tourists can enjoy water-sports in Bargi Dam.
The Central Water and Power Commission conceptualized the proposal of this dam construction in 1968 envisaging irrigation in 2,980 square kilometres and hydropower generation capacity of 105 MW. Later the Bargi diversion scheme was planned, increasing the total irrigation potential to 4,370 square kilometres.
The height of the dam is 69 m and length 5.4 km. A lake of about 75 km in length and 4.5 km width, spreading over 267.97 km2. In Jabalpur, Mandla and Seoni districts is formed when the water is impounded up to the dam FRL of 422.76 m.
One of the major dams in Madhya Pradesh, Bargi Dam is of its first kind across the river Narmada. The Bargi Dam is situated near the Bijora Village, around 40 km southwest of Jabalpur city.
The construction work of Bargi Dam was started in 1974. Bargi Dam is a small dam, completed in 1990 when the dam was filled to its complete capacity. A major water source of the region, the Bargi Dam is also used for power generation. The dam site is opened for visitors round the year till late evening. The fishing community living in and around the dam has formed a fishing co-operative society for proper income. The scenic Temar falls is the most frequented nearby attraction.
The plan of building a chain of 30 major dams on the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh was steadily in progress, and Bargi Dam is one of the first completed Dams amongst the list.
162 villages in districts Mandla, Seoni and Jabalpur were affected, submerging about 82 villages completely. Of the 26797 ha of land submerged, 14750 ha. was ownership land, 8478 ha. forest land and 3569 ha. other government land. Among the 7000 families displaced, 43% were tribals, 12% harijans, 38% OBCs and 7% others. (Source: Plan For Roof, Report by Mr. K.C. Dubey, Commissioner, Jabalpur Division , Jabalpur, 28th February 1987).
Some farmers were provided cash compensation as per Revenue Book Circular, for standing crops on the above land, which went under submergence in 1990.
Several houses\areas not calculated under submergence, later became islands with all their approach cut off. The acquisition of such misfigured lands and properties is still going on. Example: Villages Tinsai, Budhera, Sarra etc.
With no provision of alternative arrangement for housing sites and livelihoods to many oustees, they were forced to take refuge on the peripheral forest lands for settlement, cultivation and nistar. The forest department came down heavily on the oustees, imposing heavy fines or driving them out using excessive force than necessary, example: villages Tatighat, Bhaliwada, Pandiwada, Gadaghat. Such treatment by the forest officials added to the financial burden of the oustees and dehumanised them further.
With the submergence of forests and grazing lands, cattle rearing which was a thriving occupation in the region, became a liability, forcing people to sell their cattle. Due to inadequate fodder, the cattle continued to die of starvation. Cattle accidents became a common problem as the feet of the cattle got stuck in the wet mud around the reservoir, while approaching the lake, which was the only drinking water source available for them.
Inter village and intra-village approach got cut off as small streams, tributaries and nalas got filled up with back-waters of the dam. Villages like Bijasen, Patha, Lakhanpur which were at one time the thriving markets of the area, got completely cutoff from roadlinks, destroying the markets and the economy of the region. The hardest hit were the porters, petty traders, people who transported loads on small horses over short distances, etc.
The Bargi dam project has been founded on the premises of confusion, mis-conceptualisation and ignorance, not only of its technicalities, but also of the invaluable, intimate and complex human, ecological and environmental issues . Even a superficial look into the various reports and documents pertaining to the project, points out the inherent contradictions between the facts quoted in one document over the other.
Considering the tourism potential of this dam, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) has encouraged water sports in Bargi dam. For accommodation, MP Tourism has its hotel and restaurant in Bargi Dam. Here no other restaurant or hotel for accommodation is available. Their is direct bus service from Jabalpur to Bargi so reaching Bargi Dam is not a problem. One can enjoy Cruise ride, motor boat ride, speed boat ride in reservoir water. Those who are traveling from Jabalpur to Kanha National Park or vice versa, can do enroute visit of Bargi Dam.