Gujarat celebrates as Narmada dam height goes up by 17 mtrs

Our Bureau Gandhinagar | Updated on November 25, 2017

People across Gujarat broke into sudden celebrations and Chief Minister Anandiben Patel rushed to Kevadia in Narmada district for a “pooja” as Narmada Control Authority (NCA) green-signalled on Thursday the State Government’s eight-year-old plea to increase the Sardar Sarovar dam’s height by installing 17-metre tall sluice gates.

With the installation of 30 sluice gates, the dam’s height will go up from 121. 92 metres to 138.68 metres, which will also be the height of the reservoir level 9 in closed gates condition.

Two days ago, the Chief Minister had called on her mentor Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in this regard.

With this decision taken in just about a fortnight of assuming the office, the PM may have sent a clear message that he meant business. Stuck in political and bureaucratic bottlenecks for over eight years, the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada, seen as the parched state’s lifeline, got a major fillip with NCA allowing the Gujarat Government to install the sluice gates on the world-famous and India’s tallest dam.

“The NCA has granted approval to install the gates on the dam. This will mean that there will be more surety about water supply in the command area of the canal network after placing the gates. Also, there will be sustained hydro power generation,” J N Singh, Managing Director, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) told BusinessLine.

The Gujarat Government had already built the iron gates, but a nod was awaited from NCA. After the formal approval from the NCA on Thursday, work for installation of the gates will begin immediately after impending monsoon.

After installation of the gates on the dam, the storage area of the reservoir will be raised from the existing 1.27 million acre feet to 4.75 million acre feet. This will pump more water into the planned 75,000 kilometres-long network of Narmada canal in Gujarat. However, about half of the network is still under implementation.

According to Singh, “The total irrigation area to be covered in the state was 1.8 million hectares, of which so far we have achieved 1 million hectare. By 2014-15 we plan to add about 0.4 million hectare more mainly connecting Kutch.” Nearly Rs 40,000 crore have been spent since the inception of this mega-project in 1982 and another Rs 8,000 crore worth of works are underway at 400 places across the state.

Besides irrigation in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the project will also benefit Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra with more electricity. During the monsoon season, the turbines operate at full capacity of 1450 MW, but with reservoir level increasing there will be sustained power generation at full capacity round-the-year. Maharashtra is the major beneficiary of hydel power from the project while Gujarat is the main beneficiary of water.

A state government statement said that the completion of the work was lagging behind by approximately 12 years from the Action Plan. “The delay in the completion of the Project was causing substantial time and cost over runs, estimated to be Rs. 10.38 crore per day. Overall loss due to this inordinate delay is approximately Rs. 45,500 crore, more than the estimated project cost itself,” it said.

On October 31, 2013, Modi had once again brought the issue of sluice gates to light. In the past he had made repeated representations to the then UPA government for allowing installation of gates on the dam.

NCA sources revealed that the decision was delayed because of “political interference”. “At the R&R Sub Committee meeting held on June 27 last year, it was decided to allow installation of the gates. This was to be discussed at the NCA Emergency meeting on June 30, 2013 and a formal approval was to be given. But that meeting was postponed for unknown reasons and the decision got deferred.”

Insiders informed that there was actually no reason for the delay, as the states including Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh had already submitted their report complying the requirements of department of social justice on rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) a year ago.

CM tweets on the Sardar Sarovar Dam decision

“Welcome the News of the clearance given by the Central Government to put up the gates on the Sardar Sarovar Dam, the lifeline of Gujarat.” Mrs Patel tweeted.

“Heartfelt gratitude from the people of Gujarat to Hon PM @narendramodi. The decision pending has come so swiftly. Achchhe din aa Gaye Hain!” She tweeted.

“At Junagadh right now for Shala Pravesotsav. Leaving for Narmada Dam site at Kevadia. Not a single day should be lost in resuming work.”

Published on June 12, 2014

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