Human-made lakes are an important and prominent feature of the Asian landscape. Their construction dates back to antiquity in response to the vagaries of the monsoon, which causes frequent floods and droughts often in the same area, and the need of water for domestic supplies as well as agriculture. In recent times, huge multipurpose reservoirs have been constructed for irrigation and hydropower generation as well as flood control. Some of the world's largest and highest dams have been built in Russia (Kuybyshev, Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk, Rybinsk Reservoirs), Kazakhstan (Bukhtarma Reservoir), China (Three Gorges), and India (Tehri, Sardar Sarovar and Hirakud). Nurek (Norak) Dam in Tajikistan is only 95 km2 in area but is the highest (300 m) in Asia.
There are 86 881 reservoirs in the People's Republic of China. Of these, 328 are large (>10million m3); 2333 median (1-10 million m3); 14 232 (0.1-1 million m3); and the rest are very small. India has more than 100 000 human-made water bodies, most of which are concentrated in the southern and western semi-arid regions. There are about 20 000 reservoirs with an area of >10 km2 (Table 3). Sri Lanka has a
Table 3 Major reservoirs in India
Reservoir Area, km2
Rana Pratap Sagar 150
Govindsagar (=Bhakra) 168.7
Sardar Sarovar 370
Rihand (=GBPant Sagar) 465.4
Vallabhsagar (=Ukai) 520
very high density of human-made water bodies but only a few of them are perennial. The large reservoirs include Udawalwe Wewa (32.8 km2), Parakrama Samudra (22.6 km2), Hurulu Wewa (21.95 km2), and Kala Wewa (26 km2). Bangladesh has only two reservoirs, Kaptai and Feni, constructed in recent years for hydropower and flood control, respectively.
In southeast Asia there are also numerous reservoirs. Malaysia has over 50 reservoirs though most of them are small. The larger ones are Kenyir dam (370 km2), Temenggor dam (152.1 km2), and Subang dam (104.5 km2), and Pedu dam (64 km2). Laos has huge artificial lakes such as the Nam Ngum dam near Vientiane. Larger reservoirs in Indonesia constructed during the past 40 years include Jatiluhur (83 km2), Saguling (56km2), Cirata (62km2), and Riam Kanan (92 km2).
Major reservoirs in Iraq include Samarra, Kut, Ramadi, Hindiya, Yao, Meshkab, Hafar, and Akaika. Lebanon also has two important human-made lakes - Tanayel and Qaroun (the largest in the country, constructed on R. Litani in 1962).
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