Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Dam, almost 56 years after its foundation stone was laid. Modi, who turned 67 today, unveiled the plaque dedicating the dam to the nation, after performing a puja at the site here in the Narmada district. Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were among the dignitaries present on the occasion. The dam on the river Narmada has been described as 'Gujarat's lifeline' by the BJP leaders. The foundation stone of the dam was laid on April 5, 1961 by the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
However, it took 56 years to finally complete its construction due to court cases and protests by the affected villagers. Modi's visit, which has added significance as assembly elections are due in Gujarat by the year-end, is the second in less than a week after he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the state and launched the bullet train project. Earlier, the Prime Minister had stressed that the project will start a new chapter of prosperity for Gujarat. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had called the project as "Gujarat's lifeline", noting that the agricultural income and production by farmers in the state had more than doubled because of it. The delay in the completion of the dam was due to numerous reasons. 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 court allowed resumption of work in October 2000. 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.