Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada to the nation.
The foundation stone of the dam was laid on April 5, 1961 by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. However, it took 56 years to complete its construction.
Modi arrived in Ahmedabad and sought blessings of his mother Hiraba in the morning.
His visit, which has added significance as the Assembly elections are due in Gujarat by year-end, is the second in less than a week after he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and launched the Bullet train project.
“Sardar Sarovar Dam will be dedicated to the nation. This project will benefit lakhs of farmers and help fulfil people’s aspirations,” Modi tweeted.
Modi had stressed that the project will start a new chapter of prosperity for Gujarat.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had called the project as “Gujarat’s lifeline” noting that the agriculture income and production of farmers in the state more than doubled because of it.
The delay in the completion of the dam was due to numerous reasons. Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan took the government to the Supreme Court over environmental and rehabilitation issues, and obtained a stay in 1996.
The court allowed resumption of work in October 2000.
The height of the dam was recently raised to 138.68 metres, which will allow maximum ‘usable storage’ of 4.73 million acre feet of water.
“The Congress committed the sin of obstructing the project at every step. Within 20 days of becoming prime minister, Modi gave final approval to raise the height of the dam,” Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said.
Modi also visited Sadhu Bet, an island in the Narmada River where a 182-metre tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, called ‘Statue of Unity’.