Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation on Sunday. However, the inauguration of the dam after a 54-year-long delay did not go down well the critics and opposition parties, with Congress calling it an “election gimmick”. Notably, Gujarat will go to polls early next year.
The Sardar Sarovar dam is expected to provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53 per cent of total 18,144 villages of Gujarat) and irrigation facilities for 18.54 hectares of land covering 3,112 villages under 73 talukas in 15 districts. Besides Gujarat, the Narmada canal will also irrigate 2,46,000 hectares of land in the desert districts of Barmer and Jalore of Rajasthan.
Engineering miracle, despite hurdles
While inagurating the dam, PM Modi called it an “engineering miracle which was completed despite hurdles and conspiracies. The PM said that no other project in the world has faced so many hurdles as this “engineering miracle” which many people had
“conspired to stop”.
“No other project in the world has faced such hurdles as the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river. But we were determined to complete the project,” Modi said at a rally in in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district, some 55 kms from the dam site.
“Many false allegations were hurled on us. Many people conspired to stop this project. But we were determined not to make it a political battle…I have knowledge (‘kacha chittha’) of everyone who tried to stall this project, but I will not name them as I do not want to go on that route… A massive misinformation campaign was launched
against the project. The World Bank which had earlier agreed to fund the project, refused to give loan for it raising environmental concerns. But, with or without the World Bank, we completed the massive project on our own…When the World Bank refused money for Sardar Sarovar Dam, temples of Gujarat had donated for the project.”
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been opposing the construction of the dam said the “drama” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation on his
birthday was a “complete failure”.
In a statement, the Medha Patkar-led movement said it had postponed its “Jal, Zameen, Jeevika, Haq Satyagraha” and added that its struggle would continue.
“The prime minister may want to close the chapter, but it is not since the people of the Narmada Valley have not received their full entitlement and not all is lost. 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.
“We believe that the drama of dedicating the Sardar Sarovar project to the nation on the prime minister’s birthday was a complete failure. This was evident from the fact that except for Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, no one else turned up. It was announced that the chief ministers of all the BJP-ruled states would participate.
“The benefits (of the project) being touted by the prime minister are far-fetched since they are a bunch of lies and propaganda,” it said.
Greenpeace India condemned the inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river, saying it signals “ruin” and not the development of 10,000 hapless and poor farmers. “This is tragically so despite a long struggle by civil society and activists, and the Supreme Court orders passed in favour of those likely to be affected,” it added, adding the project “signals ruin not development for tens of thousands of unsuspecting, hapless and poor farmers and Advasis, in the absence of a just, genuine and fair rehabilitation programme”, it said. (With PTI inputs)