Hirakud Dam Project is built across river Mahanadi at about 15 Kms.Built in 1956, the dam is the world's largest earthen dam. Upstream of Sambalpur town in State of Orissa. This happens to be the first post independence major multipurpose river valley project in India. The dam is 6 Kms from NH 6 . The nearby rail head is Hirakud railway station (S.E.R) which is 8 Kms from the dam site.
The project provide 1,55,635 Hectors of Kharif and 1,08,385 Hectors of Rabi irrigation of Sambalpur, Bargarh, Bolangir, and Subarnpur district . The water released through power house irrigates advance 436000 Hectors of CCA in Mahanadi delta. Installed capacity for power generation in 307.5 MW through its two power houses at Burla , at the right bank to and Chiplima , at 22 Kms downstream of dam . Besides the project provide flood protection to 9500 sq Kms of delta area in district of Cuttack and Puri.
After high floods of 1937, Sir M. Visveswararya gave plan for detailed analysis for storage reservoir in Mahanadi basin to attempt problem of floods in Mahanadi delta, In 1945, it was decided under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, the then Member of Labour in Govt. of India that the potentialities of river Mahanadi should be fruitfully and expeditiously investigated for multipurpose use. Central Water- ways Irrigation and Navigation Commission took up the work. The foundation stone of Hirakud Dam was laid by Sir Howthrone Lewis, the then Governor of Orissa on 15th March 1946. The project report was submitted to Government in June 1947. The first batch of concrete was laid by Pandit Jawaharalal Neheru on 12th April 1948. The project was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th, January 1957. Power generation along with supply for irrigation started progressively from 1956 and full potential was achieved by 1966.
A very important advantage of the Hirakud Dam is that it has facilitated the exploitation the rich resources of Orissa like iron, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromite and limestone. At present, the Hirakud project has facilitate power supply to an aluminum plant at Hirakud paper mills at Brijrajnagar, cement works at Rajgangpur, iron and steel plant at Rourkella and several other industries in Cuttack, Puri, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Bolangir and other districts. In the recent years pisiculture has been a growing activity in the areas around the Hirakud Project.