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The plan for the dam was approved during the regime of the Pakistani dictator and later president General Ayub Khan, in the 1960s. Work went on until its completion in 1974. Many villages were submerged and thousands of people displaced in the process.
The dam has a height of 148 m (486 ft) above the river bed. It has a reservoir size of 250 km2 (97 sq mi). This makes it the largest earth filled dam in the world. The dam was completed in 1974. It was built to store water from the Indus River for irrigation and flood control, and for creating hydro-electric power.
The reservoir lake formed by the damming of the Indus here, is Tarbela lake, which is very elongated and spread out over a considerable area. The lake has many channels and is surrounded by wild, high hills and scrub and thorn forests. It is now a place where many species of waterfowl and fish are found.