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Fifty-six years after first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the highest embankment on a river in the country to the nation on 17 Sptember 2017.
Originally commissioned in 2006, the Sardar Sarovar Dam's height was recently raised to 138.68 metres. The increased height would enable the Sardar Sarovar Dam to store 4.73 million acre feet (MAF) of water.
The Sardar Sarovar Dam has been built on the Narmada that originates in Madhya Pradesh and passes through Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Narmada forms some portions of borders between Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, and also between Gujarat and Maharashtra before entering the Arabian Sea.
River Narmada is hailed as the lifeline of Gujarat and the Sardar Sarovar Dam with its increased height is expected to change the fortunes for the state. PM Narendra Modi decided to dedicate this mega project to the nation on his birthday, which was also celebrated as Seva Diwas by the BJP. The party hopes to reap good electoral dividends in the Gujarat Assembly elections slated for later this year.
The Sardar Sarovar Dam came up as part of the Narmada Valley Development plan. It was first conceived in the pre-Independence era in 1946. The Sardar Sarovar Dam was planned for harnessing the Narmada river water for irrigation and power generation.
After Independence, the Nehru government depended heavily on big projects as the former Prime Minister believed that mega developmental projects were crucial for rapid progress of India, which had been a colony of the industrial Britain for almost 200 years.
Inaugurating the first such mega dam at Bhakra Nangal, Jawaharlal Nehru had called it "the new temple of resurgent India." Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focusing on building a New India in five years and this dam becomes an integral part of the vision.Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the Sardar Sarovar Project on April 5, 1961. But, the project hit several hurdles - financial and environmental for years.
Twenty-six years after foundation stone was laid, it got environmental clearance only in April 1987 when Nehru's Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister.