Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated his 67 birthday on September 17 dedicating the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation, almost 56 years after stone was laid by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on April 5, 1961.
With construction beginning 26 years later in 1987, it was a proud prime minister who inaugurated the dam by unveiling the plaque and performing puja at the site in Kevadia in the Narmada district.
The project has a long history of struggle before it reached its completion. It one of the biggest human endeavours for water transport with billion units of hydropower expected to be generated annually (having produced so far 4,141 crore units).
Sardar Sarovar Dam brings a sense of national pride for all those who relentlessly pursued it for decades. Built at a cost of Rs 47,202 crore, it is one of the largest water resources projects of India covering four major states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Dam’s spillway discharging capacity (30.7 lakhs cusecs) would be third highest in the world. With 1,133 cumecs (40000 cusecs) capacity at the head regulator, the 532 km long Narmada Main Canal is the largest irrigation canal in the world.
This gravity dam is third highest (163 m) in India, after Bhakra (226 m) in Himachal Pradesh and Lakhwar (192 m) in Uttar Pradesh. In terms of the volume of concrete involved in building gravity dams, this dam ranks second largest in the world with aggregate volume of 6.82 million cu.m. The first is Grand Coule Dam in USA with a total volume of 8 million cu.m. With its spillway discharging capacity of 85,000 cumecs (30 lakh cusec), it is third in the world after Gazenba (1.13 lakh cumecs) in China and Tucurri (1 lakh cumecs) in Brazil.
It provides irrigation to 18.45 lakh hectares covering 3,112 villages of 73 talukas in 16 districts of Gujarat and 2,46,000 hectares in the desert districts of Barmer and Jalore in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in the tribal hilly tract of Maharashtra through lift.
And drinking water reaches 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53% of total 18144 villages of Gujarat). Most beneficial are the villages in Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat where many of them are “no source” villages or affected by salinity and fluoride. Several industries too have been given a new lease of life.
Electricity from The River Bed Power House and the Canal Head Power House has an installed capacity of 1200 MW and 250 MW respectively. The power is shared by three states — Madhya Pradesh 57%, Maharashtra 27% and Gujarat 16%. This also provides peaking power to western grid of the country. A series of micro hydel power stations are also planned on the branch canals.
A 10 MW Canal Top Solar Photovoltaic Grid Connected Power Plant on Vadodara Branch Canal was successfully commissioned in November-2014 with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dedicating it to the nation on 11th January, 2015.
In terms of concrete used it sets a record as it is enough to build a road from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The Sardar Sarovar Dam showcases India as an emerging power.
STATUE OF UNITY
The world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity, would stand 182-metre tall when completed and is a tribute to the Iron Man of India. Being built at the Sadhu-Bet Island, approximately 3.5kms south of Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in the Narmada district of Gujarat, this grand monument will be enhanced by a picturesque backdrop. The observation deck, situated at a height of 500 ft from river bed, will accommodate up to 200 people at a time. It will provide visitors a panoramic view of the beautiful Satpura and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, the 212 km long Sardar Sarovar Reservoir, and the 12 km long Garudeshwar Reservoir. Visitors can walk into a viewing gallery at a height of 400ft and enjoy an astounding panoramic view of the Sardar Sarovar Nigam project. Its unique location is beneficial for eco-tourism and regional development. The Statue of Unity Project will also include a unique museum and audio-visual department depicting the life and times of Sardar Vallabhbai Patel.
The foundation stone was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru on April 5, 1961.
In 1964, to resolve the dispute about sharing of Narmada Waters between Gujarat and
Madhya Pradesh, an expert committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of late Dr
A Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) too was created in 1969.
NWDT verdict in 1979 accorded Madhya Pradesh 65 % and Gujarat 32% share of water.
Rajasthan and Maharashtra would get the remaining 3%.
In 1985 Medha Patkar led social activists under the banner of Narmada Bachao Andolan
launched protest against the project. Other notable figures against the project were
Baba Amte, Arundhati Roy and Aamir Khan.
Planning Commission approved it in 1988.
Medha Patkar agitation forced the World Bank withdraw from the project on March 31,
1993. It also cancelled the loan.
In 2000, the Supreme Court allowed work on the dam.
The Dam was commissioned in 2006 (when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat.)
In 2011, the government of Gujarat announced plans to generate solar power by placing
solar panels over the canal.
In 2013 work begins on the “Statue of Unity” dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
In 2017 PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the dam.