The world’s second-largest concrete gravity dam in volume, the Sardar Sarovar dam stands tall as an engineering marvel on the sacred river Narmada. Situated in Kevadiya near Navagam, Gujarat, it provides water and electricity to four Indian states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.
As part of the dam rehabilitation and improvement programme, I along with the WAPCOS team led the refurbishment and rehabilitation of 30 radial gates for optimal utilization of dam storage. We conducted detailed geotechnical investigations, alignment studies, and command area surveys for Kachchh Branch Canal and its three sub-branches. Through our consistent efforts, we were able to construct a network of micro-canalisation of more than 1.1 million hectares of command area (as open channel) and minors and sub-minors of more than 1.2 million hectares (as an underground pipeline).
These improvements and renovations over the years have widened the scope of benefits of the dam for the adjoining areas. The unused water from the Narmada River is expected to be used for serving dry towns, villages and districts of Gujarat. Around 800,000 hectares of land in Gujarat and approx. 2,46,000 hectares of land in Rajasthan is expected to be irrigated by the dam water, while 131 towns and cities and around 9,633 villages in the four states will depend on it for potable water supply. Also, the dam is projected to provide flood protection to an area of about 30,000 hectares and benefit wildlife sanctuaries as well.
Till date, the Sardar Sarovar Dam has been recorded to produce 4141 crore units of electricity from its two nos. River Bed Powerhouse and Canal Head Powerhouse, with an installed capacity of 1200 MW and 250 MW respectively. The Power generated is being shared among three States – Maharashtra (57%), Madhya Pradesh (27%) & Gujarat (16%). In the near future, the dam is also projected to make the drought-prone command areas in Gujrat and Rajasthan completely drought proof.
While the dam has been one of the most contentious development projects in the history of independent India, it promises clean and pollution-free hydropower, drinking water, and irrigation facilities, thus giving a boost to the all-round production. It is also becoming an important tourist destination due to its natural beauty and other tourist facilities available there – read about India’s maiden seaplane services from Sabarmati riverfront to Statue of Unity.
While it took more than 50 years for the project to be ‘officially’ complete, the next 50 will be a journey towards prosperity.
Written By R K Gupta Founder of Vibgyor Marvels, Former Chairman-cum-Managing Director, WAPCOS and NPCC, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, President, India Water Partnership