New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Kevadia, Gujarat on the occasion of his 67th birthday on Sunday.
The inauguration was attended by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and several other religious and spiritual heads of the state.
The foundation stone of the dam was laid on April 5, 1961, by the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Lal Nehru. However, it took 56 years to complete its construction.
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. After inaugurating the dam, the Prime Minister is expected to visit Sadhu Bet to take stock of the work on the 'Statue of Unity' project.
He will then proceed to Dabhoi, where he is to take part in the closing ceremony of the Narmada Mahotsav and address a public meeting.
He will also lay the foundation stone for the National Tribal Freedom Fighters' Museum.
In Amreli, he will address a gathering of cooperatives, Sahakar Sammelan, inaugurate the market yard of APMC and plant of Amar Dairy, and lay the foundation stone of a honey production centre.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is observing 'Sewa Diwas' to mark the birthday of PM Modi.
Meanwhile, 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 percent of the main 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 dedicating it to the nation," IANS quoted Gohil as saying.
(With inputs from agencies)