Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar Sarovar Dam
was laid by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
in Narmada district's Kevadia, the dam was finally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
today, which is also his birthday.
1. The Prime Minister will open 30 gates installed in the dam. Each gate weighs 450 tonnes and it will take one hour to close them. It is the second-biggest concrete gravity dam in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States.
2. The dam would help irrigate 800,000 hectares of land in the state and will provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53 per cent of a total of 18,144 villages of Gujarat). Besides, the canal network will also irrigate parts of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh
3. According to a senior official associated with the project, the dam has earned Rs 16,000 cr till date, which is twice the value of its construction cost.
4. The plan for harnessing the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin was initiated in 1946. India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, inaugurated the project on April 5, 1961. However, the project was halted several times due to an interstate river water sharing dispute and protests against the human and environmental implications it would have.
5. In 1985, Medha Patkar, along with other civil society activists came together and conducted a study of the problems the projects would lead to post-completion. They inferred that the govt had overlooked the severe environmental impact of the projects as certain agricultural tracts would be submerged. Moreover, millions would be displaced by the dams and there was no concrete rehabilitation
programme to take care of the people affected.
Slowly, several movements were launched protesting against the SSP. In time, these movements came under the umbrella of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Arundhati Roy, Baba Amte, Aamir Khan and many other activists, artists, writers and academicians have been part of the movement.
6. The proposed height of the dam has been revised upward over the years by the government, despite stiff resistance on each revision. In the latest revision, the Supreme Court
has allowed an increase of 17 metres.
7. According to the SSP website, for one tribal displaced by the dam, seven will benefit. In addition to generating electricity, the dam is said to have a large positive impact on the environment, increasing tree plantation rate by 100 times, and gains due to carbon dioxide fixation will be up to 70 times.
8. Medha Patkar
has alleged that the dam's inauguration is 'politically motivated', and designed to reap gains in the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat. "The dam is being dedicated in a hurry without rehabilitating 40,000 families living in the catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh," Patkar said.
9. While Modi is going to attend the formal closing ceremony of the 'Maa Narmada Mahotsav' on September 17 to formally inaugurate the dam amid much fanfare, protesters have lined up in front of Mantralaya
in Mumbai and submitted a memorandum to the Narmada Valley
Development Authority in Bhopal.