The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya in Narmada district reached its highest capacity at 138.68 metres on Sunday evening for the first time since its height was raised in 2017, an official said.
To celebrate the feat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to be present at the dam site on September 17, which also happens to be his 69th birthday.
“Sardar Sarovar Dam has achieved its full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.68 metres,” said Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Managing Director Rajiv Gupta.
He listed release of water from the Narmada river upstream in Madhya Pradesh at the rate of 6-7 lakh cusec (Cubic foot per second) since the last few days and retaining water in the dam in view of the flood-like situation in 175 villages in Bharuch, Narmada and Vadodara districts as some of the reasons behind the water level in the dam touching the highest mark.
A district official said the milestone was achieved around 6:35 pm.
“The dam’s reservoir received water (at the rate of) 6.45 lakh cusec while the water was released (at the rate of) 5.81 lakh cusec,” he said.
The dam aims to provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53 per cent of total 18,144 villages in Gujarat) and irrigation facilities for 18.54 hectares of land, covering 3,112 villages in 15 districts.
As per a government release, the prime minister will visit the dam at Kevadiya to attend “Namami Narmade Mahotsava” to mark filling up of the dam to its full capacity and celebrate his birthday.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and others will accompany the prime minister.
The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) had in 2014 granted the permission to raise the height of the mega dam to 138.68 metres from 121.92 metres.
The dam was inaugurated by PM Modi on September 17, 2017.
Earlier, various reasons delayed its completion. After its foundation stone was laid in 1961, there was a dispute between Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on sharing of the Narmada river water and electricity.
To resolve the dispute, the Centre appointed an expert committee under the chairmanship of Dr A N Khosla in 1964. However, the then Madhya Pradesh government did not agree to share of Narmada water as per Khosla panel report.
Later, the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal was constituted in 1969 and it gave its final award in December 1979, after which the construction was started in 1980.
But, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), led by activist Medha Patkar, soon launched an agitation against the dam and took the matter to the Supreme Court over environmental concerns and rehabilitation of tribals whose lands were likely to be submerged under it.
The Gujarat government promised a robust rehabilitation package to the project-affected people, but the NBA did not accept that.
In 1996, the Supreme Court stayed the project, which further delayed the dam work.
On October 18, 2000, the apex court, in a 2-1 majority judgement, allowed construction of the dam up to a height of 138 m, subject to completion of the rehabilitation process.
But even after the court verdict, the construction of the dam faced many hurdles over rehabilitation issues.
In response to the NBA, the pro-dam people of Gujarat also launched many agitations, citing its benefits.
The government has said the “Namami Devi Narmade Mahotsava” event will be held across the state while the main event is scheduled at Kevadiya.
Famous folk artists and singers from the Gujarat film industry will participate in public celebrations in various cities on Tuesday to mark the occasion, as per the release.
Senior BJP MLAs will lead celebrations at the district level, it said.
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