BJP set to celebrate Narmada dam feat before Gujarat elections
Ahmedabad: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat is set to celebrate the completion of the massive Sardar Sarovar Dam with plans to take out a state-wide march—all with an eye on upcoming assembly polls.
On 17 June, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) gave permission to close the sluice gates in order to allow the Narmada river waters to rise to its full height up to 138.68 metres from the current 121.92 metres. This marked completion of the project.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Gujarat soon in this connection and dedicate the dam on the river Narmada to the nation. Chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and other senior party leaders are also likely to attend the event.
The dam was inaugurated in 1961 and construction began in 1987.
The state government has already started making preparations for the celebrations by planning a rath yatra that would traverse through 10,000 villages of the state, covering 24 districts.
A website to celebrate the ‘Narmada Mahotsav’ was launched by chief minister Vijay Rupani on Monday and online registration for participating in the event has started.
The rath yatra, whose dates are yet to be announced, aims to reach out to 40 million people with messages about how the project benefits the masses.
“Backed by a strong political will, the Gujarat government has taken various successful initiatives that have benefitted the people of Gujarat. Narmada project is one of the biggest achievements of the BJP government, both at the Central and state level. 17 June was a historic day for us as the permission to shut the gates and allow storage of water to its full capacity was given on this day. It has opened up a very bright future, ushered in a green revolution and ensured all round development of Gujarat,” said Rupani.
The ‘Narmada Mahotsav’, which is expected to highlight the Gujarat development model initiated when Modi was chief minister, is also aimed at hitting out at the Congress for its alleged failure to implement the dam project, which has been plagued by protests over ecological and human displacements.
Last month, a special committee headed by deputy CM Nitin Patel presented the party’s plans to BJP president Amit Shah ahead of assembly polls due in December.
Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is an inter-state project with a terminal dam on the Narmada river at Kevadia in Gujarat. A multi-purpose project with irrigation, power and drinking water benefits, it is meant to serve Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Conceptualized five decades ago, it ran into inter-state disputes, land acquisition and environmental protests and issues related to rehabilitation and resettlement of those displaced by the project—issues that divided public opinion and gave rise to a movement led by environmentalist Medha Patkar.
The government said on 17 June that droughts which hit the state every third year “will be a thing of the past now.” Gujarat’s mostly rain-fed agriculture will now come under canal-based irrigation, it added.
The statement also hit out at the Congress saying the clearance for installation of 30 gates had been pending for the last several years during the Congress-led government at the Centre.
“Without any apparent reason they did not give necessary permission and clearances to Gujarat under the leadership of Modiji who was the CM. When Modiji became the Prime Minister in 2014, within 17 days he cleared all pending files that were pending for 90 months and gave permission to install the gates on Narmada dam,” the statement said.