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    Narmada dam built despite attempts to stop it, says PM
    The construction of this dam is an engineering marvel and every engineering student should study it, the Prime Minister says Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the Narmada Dam project to the nation on his Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the Narmada dam project to the nation on his birthday, calling it Gujarat’s lifeline that has been completed despite many hurdles. Many people had “conspired” to stop it so that Gujarat did not make progress, he said. Inaugurating the dam for which the foundation was laid by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Modi recalled the contribution of Sardar Patel, in whose memory the project has been named, and B.R. Ambedkar, who had propagated the benefits of irrigation. There was, however, no mention of Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech at Dabhoi, 55 km from the dam site, in Vadodara. Second biggest The dam is the second biggest in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States and has faced many hurdles, including the World Bank’s refusal to fund it on grounds of environmental damage and displacement of tribal people in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. “No other project in the world has faced such hurdles as has the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river. But we were determined to complete it. Many false allegations were hurled on us. Many people conspired to stop it. But we were determined not to make it a political battle,” Mr. Modi said. Modi predicts ‘green revolution’ in Gujarat Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Narmada Dam project on Sunday, said that with the completion of the dam, Gujarat would see a green revolution as farmers in the parched north Gujarat and Saurashtra regions would get irrigation benefits. The dam’s inauguration just ahead of the Assembly polls in the State is seen as the ruling party’s attempt to derive political mileage during the polls later this year. “Why have the canals not been completed by the BJP government in its 22-year rule [in the State]? Today, water reaches only 3 lakh hectares out of the planned irrigation of 19 lakh hectares. Will the BJP government take responsibility for this and apologise to the farmers of Gujarat,” asked Congress leader Shaktisinh Gihil, calling the dam dedication event Mr. Modi’s campaign rally. However, though the dam has been completed in the Narmada district of south Gujarat, the massive and sprawling canal network remains woefully incomplete. Its potential benefits to the farmers will, therefore, not be realised for many years, till the canal network is in place. “So far, 50% of the canal network is yet to be built. The main canal and all branch canals have been built but distributary and field channels will take years to be completed,” said a former IAS officer, who was managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigal Ltd (SSNNL). VBK-MODIBOWjpg Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being presented a bow and arrow by a group of tribals during a public meeting in Dabhoi, after inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Gujarat on Sunday. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji NBA campaign The project was delayed by a strong movement by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) led by social activist Medha Patkar, who opposed the dam on the ground that it displaced thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra where thousands of hectares of forest land was submerged. A sustained campaign by the activists had also led to the World Bank’s withdrawal from funding the multi-purpose project, which is often described as the lifeline of drought-prone Gujarat. In 1985, the World Bank had agreed to provide $450 million as loan to fund the multi-purpose project and subsequently, a prominent U.S. environmental expert, T. Schudder, was appointed consultant to oversee rehabilitation of project-affected families, mostly tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Bad weather The Prime Minister, who was expected to reach the dam site at Kevadiya Colony around 9.15 a.m. from Gandhinagar after receiving blessings from his octogenarian mother Heeraba, had to take a detour due to bad weather. He landed in Dabhoi and travelled to Kevadiya Colony by car, reaching a little over an hour later.

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