Sardar Sarovar Dam: Years of dispute, finally full height

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying while reacting to Japan's plans to step up investments in the northeastern states told the media that China is opposed to any foreign investment in the areas where it has disputes with India. PTI file

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who celebrates his 67th birthday today, inaugurated and dedicated to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Kevadia, Gujarat, almost six decades after its foundation stone was laid. "Our loss will be a loss for the people fighting across the country, opposing displacement, submergence and forcible evictions - all in the name of development", it said and appealed to everyone to join their struggle. The party's media in-charge Randeep Surjewala said that "Modi had indulged in the misconceived electoral hype, hyperbole and hoopla by yet again inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar Dam".

He also said that the dam, conceptualised almost six decades ago, would become a symbol of the country's growing prowess and boost growth in the region.

The Jal Satyagraha began on Friday on the Narmada river banks where water level is rising consistently. "We brought Narmada waters to borders for Jawans". At the time, the 16th flight was already submerged.

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The Prime Minister's presence was to mark the launch of the Damn organised by the Gujarat government.

The project has been beset by controversies since the laying of the foundation stone by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961. "The World Bank refused to give us a loan for the project citing environmental concerns, so we completed it on our own". This is the second largest dam in the world with a height of 138 meters and is expected to extend irrigation benefits to almost 18.54 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat. Addressing a public rally in Amreli where he inaugurated five projects including an Amar Dairy plant, Dairy Science college and APMC yard, he said Narmada waters will usher in green prosperity for the farmers of the state.

Gadkari signed off by congratulating the people of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, who will benefit from the project.

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Mr Modi said, Sardar Sarovar Dam faced so many obstacles, but they were determined that the project will go on. But there were several elements all across the globe that said that the project was anti-environment. Supreme Court, lately, allowed it to increase the height by 17 metres.

Activist Medha Patkar is protesting against the project and demanding rehabilitation of the families affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam construction. And the top leadership even used the presence of a foreign head of government in Japanese premier Shinzo Abe to rerun the development narrative in the state.

In response to the National Basketball Association, the pro-dam people of Gujarat also launched many agitations citing its benefits.

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