Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar dam, the highest ever dam built in India, on Sunday.
The 1.2-km-long, 163 metres deep dam, on the Narmada river, has finally started functioning 56 year after it foundation stone was laid, in 1961 by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
It was only in 1987 that it got necessary environmental clearance to begin the work, despite vehement opposition by environmentalists.
The most vociferous opposition was of Medha Patkar, then a PhD student, who started the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Following her activism, citing the environmental impact of the dam, the World Bank stopped funding the dam in 1994. The Supreme Court ordered suspension of the construction two years later.
But the Supreme Court in 2000 allowed the construction of the dam, with an height up to 90 meter. It allowed further increase in height, in a phased manner, after obtaining clearance from an appropriate body — the Narmada Control Authority — based on the rehabilitation of or compensation given to those affected by the project.
By 2004, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) allowed increase in height up to 110 meters.
Finally the work on the dam got commissioned in 2006.
in June 2014, NCA gave its final clearance to raise the height to 138.68 metres.
By now the cost of construction has crossed Rs. 16,000 crore, double the estimated cost, according to officials.
The power generated from the dam is to be shared between Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It has two powerhouses with an installed capacity of 1,200 MW and 250 MW.