History of Sardar Sarovar Dam

The Sardar Sarovar project was a vision of the first deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel. It was on April 5, 1961, that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the project. It was carried out after the study on the usage of the Narmada River that flowed through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and into the Arabian Sea. However, the idea of the project led to the first dispute over the means of distributing the Narmada water over three states – Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It was decided to create the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) in 1969 to determine the fate of the project. There were many large numbers of reports and studies made by the three states before the NWDT gave its verdict in 1979. It was decided that from the 35 billion cubic meters of water available for consumption from the dam, 65 percent would be provided to Madhya Pradesh, 32 percent would be supplied to Gujarat and Maharashtra will be eligible to 3 percent.

The construction of the world largest was not that easy, and the disputes for the project of the Sardar Sarovar Dam didn’t stop here, soon it caught the attention of social activists as they claimed that the dam did not meet the required environmental and social conditions as per the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It was Medha Patkar who first visited the site of the dam in 1985. Afterward, many movements were conducted with the name “Narmada BachaoAndolan” and went on to acquire the international attention. She was not alone in standing against the dam, Baba Amte, Arundhati Roy and Amir Khan were also with her. The Supreme Court allowed the construction of the dam after the several years of deliberation.

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