Ahmedabad, September 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada. The event was held at Kevadia in Narmada district and was attended by Gujarat Chief minister Vijay Rupani and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. Although initiated in 1961, under then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, completion of the project took 56 years owing to major opposition from environmentalist and human rights organisations.
PM Modi owing to unpleasant weather could not travel to the site by his chopper. He was forced to travel by road, which delayed the event. Finally the Prime Minister reached the spot at around 10.20 am and inaugurated the dam.
On Saturday, PM Modi emphasised that this project will benefit lakhs of farmers and help fulfill people’s aspirations. He also said the project will start a new chapter of prosperity for the state of Gujarat. Noteworthy that this is the second large project to see the day of light under the BJP within a week, first being the Bullet train project which was launched on Wednesday by Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, also in Gujarat.
Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, took the government to the Supreme Court over environmental and rehabilitation issues, and obtained a stay in 1996.
The Apex Court allowed resumption of the project in October 2000. According to BJP, the Congress is responsible for the delay. PTI quoted Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya saying, “The Congress committed the sin of obstructing the project at every step. Within 20 days of becoming prime minister, Modi gave final approval to raise the height of the dam.”
The height of the dam was recently raised to 138.68 metres, which will allow maximum ‘usable storage’ of 4.73 million acre feet of water.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had earlier called the project “Gujarat’s lifeline” noting that the agriculture income and production of farmers in the state more than doubled because of it.
The Gujarat Congress on the other hand claimed that the project is not complete and canals of 43,000 km length were yet to be built despite the BJP ruling the state for 22 years.