Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced “Ma Narmada Utsav” to celebrate the Narmada Control Authority’s (NCA’s) decision on Saturday to allow closing of all 30 gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the river Narmada at Kevadia Colony, which will help raise level of water in the reservoir to 138.68 metre from the present 121.92 metre. The decision comes just ahead of the monsoon reaching Gujarat and in the wake of at least 500 dam oustees sitting on a relay fast at Kevadia, demanding certain changes in the rehabilitation policy.
Rupani, who called the decision as “golden moment in the history of Gujarat” day, cut short all events to rush to Kevadia in Narmada district to begin the process of closing the gates. He then returned to Gandhinagar to make the announcement in this regard at a press conference with his deputy Nitin Patel. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally dedicate the dam to the people. The decision will help swell the dam’s live storage from 1.27 million acre feet (MAF) to 4.73 MAF.
“It was Sardar’s (Vallabhbhai Patel’s) vision in 1946 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed in 2017,” Rupani said. The CM also listed the dam-related events from 1961 onward when consensus eluded the four partner states — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan — on issues, including rehabilitation of project-affected people and quantum of compensation. “This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most important and biggest decision he has taken till date, which will be beneficial for future generations”, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who had gone to the dam site with the Chief Minister in the morning, said at the press conference.
He said that before 2014, the UPA government sat for seven years on permission to install gates on the dam. After Modi became prime minster, the gates were installed in 17 days, Patel added. He said 18 lakh hectare in the state would now be irrigated by Narmada water and it will benefit 9,000 villages and four crore people. “This means 3.75 times increase in the live storage capacity,” said Patel, projecting about 40 per cent increase in the hydro power generation. Of the 30 gates, each gate weights 450 tonnes and takes one hour for closure, he said. Twenty three gates are of the size of 20×55 feet, while seven gates are 60×60 feet.