Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada on August 12. Chief Ministers of 12 states ruled by the BJP and its allies will attend the ceremony where Modi will perform a grand Narmada aarti in the presence of at least 2,000 priests from across the country, mainly from Varanasi.
This will be Modi’s first visit to Narmada district after becoming Prime Minister in 2014. He will later address a rally in Dabhoi, about 60 km from the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
The inauguration of the dam, which has now been raised to a height of 138 metres after the installation of the gates, will also mark the end of the two week long Maa Narmada Yatra to be initiated by the state government from July 27. As many as 85 raths, each carrying an idol of Goddess Narmada, will roll out from 24 districts. The rath will reach Kevadiya colony ahead of PM’s visit after criss-crossing through various districts of the state.
According to BJP sources, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel will visit Narmada to take stock of the preparations later this week.
District officials said that the state government has instructed officials of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) to suggest the best place to hold the inauguration ceremony. “We have been asked to suggest which of the three locations — View Point 1, A-frame (top of the dam), and Glass Cabin — would be ideal for the guests. From most of the discussions that we have had with government representatives, it appears that A-frame or the top of the dam will be the final choice,” an official of SSNNL said.
According to officials, special arrangements have been made to accommodate close to 2,000 priests, who will also arrive to perform the first-of-its-kind Narmada aarti. “The dais will be designed in such a way that the priests will get prominence,” the official added.
Modi has been credited for clearing the way for installation of the gates of the dam within a fortnight of assuming office as Prime Minister in 2014. “Till 1997, the Narmada project was moving at snail pace, but Narendra Modi put it on a fast track after taking reins of Gujarat as chief minister in 2001,” said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at an event in Gandhinagar on Thursday.
Calling the project as “Gujarat’s lifeline”, the Chief Minister said that the agriculture income and production of farmers in the state more than doubled in the past 15 years becuase of the project. “In 2001, agriculture production of Gujarat used to be of Rs 18,895 crore. In 2016, it reached Rs 1,26,806 crore. Farmers (of Guajrat) have become prosperous,” Rupani told a gathering of NGOs on the “constructive role” they played in bringing the project to reality.
He said that Narmada project and other associated projects like Sujlam Suflam and SAUNI Yojana helped to bring Narmada water to people of Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Kutch.