Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Wednesday flagged off `Narmada Mahotsav Yatra' from Surendranagar as part of a two-week celebration to mark the completion of Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river.
Eighty-four `Narmada Raths' or `chariots' would travel across the state in these two weeks to spread awareness about the importance of the project, an official release said.
The Yatra would culminate in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district on September 17, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi would attend the closing ceremony. September 17 happens to be Modi's birthday.
While Rupani flagged off a chariot in Surendranagar, other vehicles, all carrying statues of `Maa Narmada' (Mother Narmada), were flagged off from other parts of the state.
Without naming the Congress, Rupani blamed the party for `stalling' the project when it was in power in the Centre.
The BJP government had fulfilled the "dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel", he said.
"Past governments used every trick in the book to stall this project all these years due to their anti-Gujarat mentality. But due to the consistent efforts of PM Narendra Modi, we have managed to bring Narmada waters to every nook and corner of the state today," said Rupani.
The event comes ahead of Assembly polls, due by year-end. The ruling BJP has decided to make the completion of Sardar Sarovar Dam a major campaign plank.
Fifty-six years after its foundation stone was laid by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the dam was completed after the state, on June 17 this year, got permission from the Narmada Control Authority to close all the 30 gates of the dam, raising its height to 138.68 meters.
Construction was suspended in 1996 when the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) obtained a stay from the Supreme Court by raising environmental concerns and rehabilitation issues.
The apex court lifted the stay in October 2000. The court, however, said the permission to increase the height would be given in phases, conditional on resettlement of project-affected people.