Gujarat closes gates at Narmada Dam, huge step in water management for state

Gujarat closes gates at Narmada Dam, huge step in water management for state
Gujarat government on Saturday closed all the 30 gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam that would help it almost triple the water storage capacity in the dam to 4.75 million acre-feet (MAF) of water, up from 1.4 MAF.

The ceremony to close the dam gates was performed by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel at the dam site in Kevadiya Colony after the state government received permission from the Narmada Control Authority to do so.

The higher storage in the dam has been facilitated by raising the dam height up to 138 meters and installation of radial gates that was completed in December last year. Higher storage in the dam would also help state supply water to parched areas of Saurashtra and North Gujarat. The closure is expected to benefit 2.9 crore people in the state, provide drinking water to 9663 villages (a little over 50% of state’s villages) and 131 urban centers, irrigation facilities to 10 lakh farmers over six lakh hectares of land, taking the overall irrigation reach in the state to 1.8 million hectares.

“Today is a golden and a historic day for Gujarat. Closure of gates at the Sardar Sarovar Dam has opened the floodgates for the state’s development. The dream of Sardar Patel has been realised,” chief minister Vijay Rupani said.

The states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were expected to complete Resettlement of Rehabilitation(R&R) of the Project Affect Families (PAF) before July 31, 2017, to strictly comply with the Supreme Court order stipulating requirements for the closing the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam. The three states reportedly completed the R & R work ahead of schedule, facilitating earlier closure of gates.

The project has seen major upheavals since foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961. Several environmental activists raised concerns with regards to R&R in the catchment area and environmental impact due to the height of the dam. This had led to several multilateral agencies withdraw financial support to the project, forcing state government under Chimanbhai Patel to bring in Narmada Bonds to raise monies. Even PM Narendra Modi had gone on a 51-hour fast in 2005, seeking permission to raise the dam height. It was finally facilitated after Narendra Modi took reins as PM of India as well as apex court ruling in favour.

Gujarat government is now learned to have planned a mega show by the end of July or early August, to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP government in the state has also planned a Narmada Yatra across state geography to celebrate the success and mobilise masses in the run-up to forthcoming Assembly polls.

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