Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Dam, almost 56 years after its foundation stone was laid. Modi, who turned 67 today, unveiled the plaque dedicating the dam to the nation, after performing a puja at the site here in the Narmada district.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were among the dignitaries present on the occasion. The dam on the river Narmada has been described as 'Gujarat's lifeline' by the BJP leaders.
From the dam site, the Prime Minister travelled to Sadhu Bet, where the Statue of Unity, an iconic statue and associated memorial complex for Sardar Patel, is currently under construction. He took an overview of the progess of work.
Modi the attended the closing ceremony of the Narmada Mahotsav and addressed the gathering at Dabhoi. The closing ceremony is also of a Narmada yatra taken out by the ruling BJP as part of the Mahotsav through 85 chariots that went around the state and would reach the dam site.
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 finally complete its construction due to court cases and protests by the affected villagers.
Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister met his mother Heeraben Modi at her home in Gandhinagar - as he does every year on his birthday - to seek her blessings.
Here are the highlights of Pm Modi's speech at Dabholi:
01:14 pm: I had met Arjan Singh ji some days back, the hero of 1965 war. Discipline was in his blood, I salute him: PM Modi
01:05 pm: We remember our freedom fighters from the tribal communities who gave a strong fight to colonialism, says PM Modi
01:04 pm: The 'Statue of Unity' will be a fitting tribute to Sardar Patel and will draw tourists from all over, says PM Modi
01:03 pm: Sardar Sahab did not get the credit he deserved after independence, for whatever reasons, says PM Modi
12:56 pm: We are working to overcome these shortages so that both parts of India development and India scales new heights of development: PM Modi
12:54 pm: The western part of India lacks adequate water supply, in the eastern part there is shortage of electricity and gas supply: PM Modi
12:52 pm: There is a Jan Sagar here in Dabhoi and this shows the respect people have for Maa Narmada, says PM Modi
12:51 pm: Jab World Bank ne paise dene se mana kar diya tha, tab Gujarat ke mandiron ne paisa diya, says PM Modi on Sardar Sarovar dam
12:50 pm: The waters of Maa Narmada will help several citizens and transform several lives: PM Modi
12:49 pm: Ye sirf Gujarat nahi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan ke kisaano ke bhagya ko badalne wala project hai, says PM
12:48 pm: The saints and seers of Gujarat have played a very big role in the making of the Sardar Sarovar Dam as well: PM Modi
12:45 pm: I still remember, as CM when I went to border areas I saw BSF Jawans do not have water. We brought Narmada waters to borders for Jawans, says PM
12:43 pm: Lack of water resources has been a major factor in slowing the pace of development, says PM Modi
12:40 pm: Sardar Sarovar Dam faced so many obstacles. But, we were determined that the project will go on, says PM Modi
12:39 pm: We especially remember two great people today, Sardar Patel Dr. Ambedkar, who as Minister gave great importance to irrigation and waterways: PM
12:37 pm: Let us leave no stone unturned in creating a 'New India' by 2022, when we mark 75 years of India's freedom: PM Modi
11:56 am: PM Modi fought for the people, sat on fast to complete the project, says Gadkari
11:55 am: Interlinking of three of 30 rivers will begin within three months. We will strive to make all of PM Modi’s dreams come true: Nitin Gadkari
11:52 am: Four crore Gujaratis will get drinking water and 22,000 hectares of land will be irrigated. Narmada Dam will help realise PM Modi’s dream of making poor farmers wealthy by 2022: Nitin Gadkari
10:40 am: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan congratulates the people of Gujarat and its CM Vijay Rupani on the inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam
While a 182-metre Statue of Unity is a project conceived by Modi, he has also been consistently in favour of increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The height of the dam was recently raised to 138.68 metres.
An official release said the increase in the dam height will facilitate a usable storage of 4.73 Million Acre Feet (MAF) and will greatly benefit the participating states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
It said that the project has helped transport the waters of the Narmada river to the water-deficient areas of Gujarat through an elaborate canal and pipeline network.
"Irrigation from the project is expected to benefit about 10 lakh farmers and drinking water to be supplied to various villages and towns is likely to benefit up to 4 crore people," the release said.
The project has been described as one of the biggest human endeavours for water transport. Up to a billion units of hydropower are also expected to be generated annually.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is observing PM Modi's birthday as 'Seva Diwas' today across the country with party leaders attending medical camps, blood donation events, and taking part in cleanliness drives.
BJP chief Amit Shah will be in Ranchi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would be at Kirti Nagar in Delhi, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal in Chennai, and Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in Mumbai, as part of the party's plan to celebrate their top leader's birthday as a 'day of service' (Seva Diwas) across the country
Simultaneously, the opposition Congress has mocked the Prime Minister dedicating to the nation something, a major part of which was completed by the party during its rule before 1995. State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and a national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil asserted that "90 per cent of the mail canal of the dam and 88 metres were completed by the Congress between 1987 and 1995".
"In as many as 22 years of the BJP's rule, not even half of the work on creating minor and sub-minor canal network has been completed. You can see the water in the dam but it does not reach most of the farmers in the absence of a canal network. And the Prime Minister is adedicating it to the nation'," said Gohil.
Meanwhile, Modi will lay the foundation stone for the National Tribal Freedom Fighters' Museum during the event.
The Prime Minister will later visit Amreli, where he will inaugurate a new market yard of APMC. He will also inaugurate new plants of Amar Dairy, and lay the foundation stone of a honey production centre. He will address a gathering.
(With IANS inputs)