NCA Allows Raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam Height

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Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts.

NCA has permitted final raising of SSD after following the procedure laid down by Supreme Court order dated October 18, 2000 in WP(C) 328 of 2002 in Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union of India & others.

It may be recalled that the last time raising of SSD was cleared on June 12,2014, wherein permission for Phase-I construction of piers, overhead bridge and installation of gates in open or raised position was granted. At that time, the effective height of SSD remained at EL 121.92 mts. with backwater levels of EL 134.32 mts. at dam site.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam is a gravity dam on the Narmada river near Navagam, Gujarat in India. It is the largest dam and part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectric multi-purpose dams on the Narmada river. The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity.

One of the 30 dams planned on river Narmada, Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) is the largest structure to be built.

Following a number of controversial cases before the Supreme Court of India (1999, 2000, 2003), by 2014 the Narmada Control Authority had approved a series of changes in the final height – and the associated displacement caused by the increased reservoir, from the original 80 m (260 ft) to a final 163 m (535 ft) from foundation.

The project will irrigate more than 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi), most of it in drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra.

The dam’s main power plant houses six 200 MW Francis pump-turbines to generate electricity and include a pumped-storage capability.

Additionally, a power plant on the intake for the main canal contains five 50 MW Kaplan turbine-generators. The total installed capacity of the power facilities is 1,450 MW. Its final configuration is the second largest concrete gravity dam (by volume) after Grand Coulee Dam in the US and has the world’s third largest spillway discharging capacity.

The dam is one of India’s most controversial, and its environmental impact and net costs and benefits are widely debated. The figurehead of much of the protest is Medha Patkar, the leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (“Save Narmada Movement”). The movement was cemented in 1989, and received the Right Livelihood Award in 1991. Support for the protests also came from Indian author Arundhati Roy.

Height increases of Dam:

In February 1999, the Supreme Court of India gave the go ahead for the dam’s height to be raised to 88 m (289 ft) from the initial 80 m (260 ft).

In October 2000 again, in a 2-to-1 majority judgment in the Supreme Court, the government was allowed to construct the dam up to 90 m (300 ft).

In May 2002, the Narmada Control Authority approved increasing the height of the dam to 95 m (312 ft).

In March 2004, the Authority allowed a 15 m (49 ft) height increase to 110 m (360 ft).

In March 2006, the Narmada Control Authority gave clearance for the height of the dam to be increased from 110.64 m (363.0 ft) to 121.92 m (400.0 ft). This came after 2003 when the Supreme Court of India refused allow the height of the dam to increase again.

In August 2013, heavy rains raised the reservoir level to 131.5 m (431 ft), which forced 7,000 villagers upstream along the Narmada River to relocate.

On June 2014, Narmada Control Authority gave the final clearance to raise the height from 121.92 m (400.0 ft) metres to 138.68 m (455.0 ft).

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