Location of Ottu barrage in India
|Official name||Ottu barrage|
|Dam and spillways|
|Creates||Water supply & Irrigation|
The Ottu barrage, sometimes spelled as the Otu barrage and also known as Ottu Head, is a masonry weir on the Ghaggar-Hakra River in Haryana state of India that creates a large water reservoir out of the formerly-small Dhanur lake, located near the village of Ottu, which is about 8 miles from Sirsa in Haryana. It is a feeder for the two Ghaggar canals (the Northern Ghaggar canal and the Southern Ghaggar canal) that carry irrigation water to northern Rajasthan state. In 2002, a new tourist complex was inaugurated at the barrage, and it was given the honorary name of "Chaudhary Devi Lal Weir" to commemorate the former Chief Minister of Haryana state, Chaudhary Devi Lal. The Dhanur lake reservoir is now often referred to simply as the Ottu reservoir.
The Ottu barrage was constructed in 1896-97 using low-cost labor that was available due to a famine in the region at that time. Prior to the construction of the barrage and its associated reservoir and canals, agriculture in the then princely state of Bikaner had come under pressure from fluctuating water-supply in the monsoon season caused by diversions in the Ghaggar by riparian farmers further upstream. The barrage and canals cost 6.3 lakh rupees to construct, 2.8 lakhs of which was paid by the princely state of Bikaner and the remainder by the British-run Government of India.
Historical confusion with Talwara lake
It was once assumed by some historians that Ottu lake was the site where Timur had encamped after overpowering Bhatnair fort in Hanumangarh (Rajasthan) during his invasion of India in 1398-99 CE. However, it is now known that the actual site of his camp, which he described as being Kinar-e-Hauz (i.e. on the banks of a tank or lake), was at the banks of Talwara Lake, which is further 40 km downstream in Hanumangarh district between Ellenabad and Hanumangarh town.
- Sir William Wilson Hunter, India Office, Imperial gazetteer of India, Clarendon Press, 1908,
... It was agreed between the British Government and the State of Bikaner that the Dhanur lake, about 8 miles from Sirsa, should be converted into a reservoir by the construction of a masonry weir at Otu ... two canals, the northern and southern ... constructed with famine labor in 1896-7 ... 6.3 lakhs, of which 2.8 lakhs was debited to Bikaner ...
- Mukesh Bhardwaj (7 April 2002), "Tau here, Tau there, Tau everywhere", Indian Express, retrieved 28 November 2010,
... The prestigious Panipat Thermal Plant was named after Devi Lal, as was the new tourist complex at Ottu weir in Sirsa ...
- "बस साल भर बाद खेतों की प्यास बुझाएगी ओटू झील (Ottu reservoir will begin quenching the thirst of fields in only a year)", Dainik Jagran, 27 May 2010, retrieved 28 November 2010,
... किसानों की समस्या से निजात दिलाने में सहायक ओटू झील की याद बरबस किसानों व सिंचाई विभाग को आना लाज़िमी है। सिंचाई विभाग ने किसानों के हित को ध्यान में रखते हुए झील की खुदाई की गति तेज़ कर दी है (it is obvious that the suffering farmers and the irrigation department would look to the Ottu reservoir. Mindful of the farmers' interests, the irrigation department has accelerated the work to deepen Ottu reservoir) ...
- Aurel Stein; Amalananda Ghosh; Swarajya Prakash Gupta, An archaeological tour along the Ghaggar-Hakra River, Kusumanjali Prakashan, 1989,
... general opinion repeatedly expressed to me in the Hanumangarh area alleges that the volume of water available for cultivation both from the Nali and the Ghaggar canals has considerably diminished ... increased diversion of flood water from the upper course of the Ghaggar ... ... complaints repeatedly raised by the Bikanir Durbar ... led to the construction in 1897 of the Otu barrage and the Ghaggar canals ...
- History of Sirsa Town, Atlantic Publishers & Distri,
... Amir Timur, the king of Samarkand, launched a fierce attack ... overpowered the fort Bhatnair ... first halt was at a place called Kinar-e-Hauz (bank of a tank or lake) which is now known as Talwara Lake on the way between Bhatnair and Firozabad and chakrahiyan . The assumption of some persons that Timur had relaxed on the bank of Ottu lake is not logical ...