Ending Gujarat’s eight-year-long wait, Chief Minister Anandi Patel on Thursday announced that the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has given approval to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to 138.62 metres, which, on its completion, would allow the state to get three times more water for irrigation.
The government can go ahead with installation of sluice and radial gates at the dam and take its height to its full reservoir level, at 138.62 metres, from the present 121.92 metres and also increase water holding capacity by 74 per cent from 1.25 to 4.75 acre feet.
However, the state will have to speed up its long pending canal network, without which the additional water quantum will be of no use. Although the project started in 1982, 40 per cent of its 75,000-km-long canal networking work is still pending.
Thus, there will be little chance that water will reach the parched areas of Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat to meet its full irrigation capacity of over 18 lakh hectares.
Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) officials said that the installation of gates and building of canal network will go on simultaneously. SSNNL MD J N Singh Said, “By 2015, the canal network will be complete.” The dam covers MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Patel cut short a school enrollment drive in Junagadh, which she was inaugurating on Thursday, to rush to Kevadia Colony in Narmada district, the site of the dam.
“Achhe din aa gaye hain,” she told the media, thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Today is a great day for Gujarat. We thank the PM,” she said. However, social activist Medha Patkar, who heads the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said the decision was not taken in a democratic manner. The decision to raise the dam’s height was taken in a meeting in Delhi on Thursday.
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