i201791302 *Jigar Khunt

Words of Narmada or Ganga bring images of entire life to our minds. As rivers, they reflect the flow of life too. Structuring rivers or life brings consistency, sustenance, productivity, and prosperity.

Shri Narendra Modi government at the center had been thinking on such structuring of rivers for the prosperous sustenance of life.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam has been the dream project of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. When he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he gave the utmost priority to the project. Despite hundreds of hurdles, he showed a strong political will to complete the project. He raised the funding for the project and earned the support from all stakeholders. It was during his time, that the Narmada water reached the water scarce Kutch region.

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On 12th June 2014, the 17th day after Shri Narendra Modi assumed the charge as Prime Minister, Narmada Control Authority (NOC) gave the approval to raise the height of the dam from 121.92 meters to 138.72 meters with the condition to keep the gates open. The state was eagerly waiting for this day for around 8 years then. The State government without waiting any further started the work of raising the height of the dam from the very next day and completed it six months before its actual schedule.

Then the Central government about three months back, on June 16, this year gave permission to the Gujarat government to shut the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam with a spirit of rejuvenating rivers for the benefit of lives.This was about Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the dam on the River Narmada was laid. This was expected to give an impetus to the holistic development of all the riparian states.

To commemorate this unprecedented moment and to mark such a measure of foresight and a complete commitment to development, the State government had decided to celebrate “Maa Narmada Mahotsav.” The Narmada is not just the longest river of the state, but it is the life line of Gujarat. The thirst of the largest part of the Gujarat is being quenched by Maa Narmada.

The Prime Minister is expected to participate in the culmination of this Mahotsav on coming Sunday, the 17th September 2017.

The closure of gates has increased the storage capacity of the dam by 3.75 times of its then capacity. 4,25,780 crore liters of water can be stored now, which earlier used to flow into the sea. In the year 2016-17, 320 crore units of electricity were generated. By using this additionally stored water, 40% more electricity can be generated. It will also save the state from the drought woes as stored water can now be diverted to the water scarce regions.

Maa Narmada Mahotsav

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The ‘Maa Narmada Mahotsav’ is currently going on from 6th September to 15th September. Under this Mahotsav, a chariot, named ‘Narmada Rath’ would move in 10,000 villages of 24 districts to spread awareness about the importance of the project and its benefits to around four (4) crore citizens of Gujarat. During these celebrations, Narmada Rath will be welcomed by Aarti and will also see the organisation of blood donation camps, slogan competitions, mobile film competitions, Mahila and Kisan Sabhas and cycle/bike rallies by youth. To take part in the celebrations, all people were invited to register on the website www.narmadamahotsav.gujarat.gov.in, launched by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani.

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Streamlining the Narmada waters

Three major schemes of Gujarat Government, which were inspired by the Spirit of Shri Narendra Modi, relating to Narmada river-namely Sauni Yojana, Sujlam Suflam Yojana and Sardar Sarovar Yojana are being taken forward for the development of the State. Due to these ambitious schemes, Narmada waters would now reach to the far-flung water deficient regions of the state which receives scanty rainfall.

Sauni Yojana is a project with an objective of filling 115 major dams by diverting flood waters overflowing from the Sardar Sarovar Dam across the Narmada River, to divert them to the drought prone areas of Saurashtra region.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the links 1, 2 and 3 of phase I of Sauni Yojana respectively in August 2016, April 2017 and June 2017. He will inaugurate the newly constructed gates of Narmada Dam and dedicate these to the nation during his visit to Gujarat on coming Sunday the 17th September 2017.

Under Sujlam Suflam Yojana, one million acre feet of flood waters of Narmada are to be provided to North Gujarat region by spreading canals and 14 pipelines. The approximate cost of the project is Rs. 4000 crore. Under this project, 697 reservoirs of 8 districts are to be filled with Narmada waters due to which approximately 1,88,600 acres of land would be benefitted.

Sardar Sarovar Yojana

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Sardar Sarovar Dam is a part of the Yojana by the same name and the dam is situated in Navagam, Dist. Bharuch which is 530 feet high from the sea surface. The idea of the dam was given by the iron man Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The foundation stone of the dam was laid on 16th April 1961 and is completed in 17th June 2017. During this period, approximately Rs. 44,000 crores were spent on the construction of the dam and Rs. 16,000 crores were spent on bond and interest.

This project provides irrigation to 18 lacs hectare land of Gujarat and 2.46 lacs hectare land of Rajasthan. The project aims to benefit approximately 10 lakh farmers. 10 lakh job opportunities are expected to be created in the rural areas which will help to prevent the migration from rural to urban areas.

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Sardar Sarovar Dam is also a unique example of great engineering works. It is India’s biggest concrete gravity dam with 1210 meters length and 163 meters height from the foundation. Narmada’s main canal is world’s biggest canal with 458 km length and its water carrying capacity is 40,000 cubic feet per second. It has world’s first canal top solar power plant which saves land and reduces water evaporation from the canal. By interlinking of rivers, flood waters of Narmada have been diverted to the other rivers by its canals wherever possible in the state of Gujarat. Thus, in true sense, Sardar Sarovar Yojana became the source of inspiration for a transformation of the state.

Meanwhile, the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari had announced that India’s first river-linking project will be executed between Maharashtra and Gujarat. Addressing newspersons in Mumbai recently, he said The Par – Tapi – Narmada and Damanganga – Pinjal Inter-State River Link project is expected to commence in next three months. Shri Gadkari said there are 30 river linking projects proposed nation-wide, which are expected to cost Rs.8 lakh crore.  Five of these will start in the next three months; two of those are in Maharashtra and Gujarat, he added.

Such a commitment and perseverance from leaderships of both the Central and State Governments should be a harbinger for the people of Gujarat to really celebrate this Mahotsav which is promising their welfare and development.

However, we must not stop just at worshipping the river. All the sections of the society must join hands with the government to make sure that the purity of our rivers is remained forever and must also rejuvenate the rivers which have lost the liveliness due to man-made interventions.

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*Author is working as Information Assistant in Press Information Bureau, Ahmedabad. Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.

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