On his birthday, PM Modi to inaugurate world's second biggest dam

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the occasion of his 68 birthday on Sunday, inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada. It is also the second biggest dam in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States.

"The Prime Minister has decided that we will double the income of farmers by 2022 and this vision will be fulfilled by this project", Nitin Gadkari said, at the inauguration ceremony of the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project.

The 1.2-km-long dam, which is 163 metres deep, will irrigate over 18 lakh hectares in the state, according to officials; the water from Narmada will flow into over 9,000 villages through a canal network, Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited (SSNL) officials said, explaining the paybacks of the project.

Activist Medha Patkar, leader of National Basketball Association, has been protesting against the project and has been seeking rehabilitation for the displaced families. He said many people had "conspired to stop" the project, and the World Bank had refused to fund it.

Having visited close to 50 countries in three years of his tenure, the Prime Minister's foreign policies have also garnered much attention. "But we were determined to complete the project", Modi said at a rally some 55 kms from the dam site in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district.

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Speaking about Sardar Patel, the prime minister, who turned 67 today said the iron Man of India would be very happy today. He will dedicate the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation. If Sardar Saab had lived longer, the Narmada dam would have been ready in the 1970s... The project, Modi said, was completed despite financial constraints as World Bank retracted support in the wake of protests.

The Narmada Bachan Andolan is a movement against the dams built across the Narmada through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It has since undergone several upheavals before seeing light of the day 56 years later.

The "same World Bank was compelled to give the state a Green Award" following the Gujarat government's rehabilitation work after the 2001 quake in Kutch, said Modi. The power generated from the dam will be shared by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the report said.

Patkar has alleged that the affected families have not been rehabilitated or paid compensation despite the Supreme Court order. It may be recalled that as the chief minister in 2006, Modi had gone on a 51-hour fast to mount pressure on the Congress-led UPA government to permit increasing the height of the dam.

After inaugurating the dam, he will also visit Sadhu Bet to take stock of the work on the "Statue of Unity" project.

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