NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river, saying no other project in the world has faced so many hurdles as this “engineering miracle” which many people had “conspired to stop”. He said the dam, conceptualised nearly six decades ago, would become a symbol of the country’s growing prowess and boost growth in the region. “No other project in the world has faced such hurdles as the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river. But we were determined to complete the project,” Modi said at a rally about 55 km from the dam site in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district.
“I have knowledge (‘kacha chittha’) of everyone who tried to stall this project, but I will not name them as I do not want to go on that route,” the prime minister said. “When the World Bank refused money for Sardar Sarovar Dam, temples of Gujarat had donated for the project,” he said. Thanking the tribal families who were displaced by the project, Modi said, “India will remember and honour their sacrifice for development of the country.”
“Dedication of the enhanced capacity of the Sardar Sarovar Project to the nation is quite a big thing for Gujarat and Rajasthan as drought-hit farmers can see a better future. Besides, availability of water in these backward regions will trigger industrial activity, which in turn will be a game-changer for the state,” Dr Tajamul Haque, advisor to NITI Aayog, told the New Indian Express.
With the numerically strong Patels in Gujarat giving the BJP the jitters, the party is counting on consolidation of Dalit, tribal and OBC votes to negate the campaign of Patidar leader Hardik Patel and others. The party is also hoping to cash in on the election of Ram Nath Kovind as President, as it eyes the Kori vote that comprises 16 per cent of Dalits.
Within 17 days of assuming office in New Delhi, Modi had ensured approval to raise the dam to its full height of 138.68 metres and install 30 gates, each weighing about 450 tonnes. Twenty-three gates are 60 feet by 55 feet and seven are 60 feet by 60 feet.
The waters of the Sardar Sarovar dam will reach the parched Barmer and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, where CM Vasundhara Raje increasingly faces farmers’ fury.(With PTI inputs)