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Sardar Sarovar Dam

Topics Covered:

Conservation related issues.

Sardar Sarovar Dam


What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the project and Narmada river.

For Mains: Concerns over the projects, challenges and ways to address them.


Context: Oustees displaced in Madhya Pradesh due to the backwaters of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat are not convinced by the government of Madhya Pradesh’s promises to help them even as they stare at continual displacement.



The height of the dam was increased to 138.68 metres in 2017. The water level in the dam reached 136.04 metres on September 9, 2019, due to heavy rains. The dam is to be filled to its full reservoir level by October 15. 


Various issues present:

  1. Compensation amounts.
  2. Formation of islands due to submergence.
  3. Inadequate number of plots and rehabilitation sites.
  4. Leveling of land for house construction.
  5. Action on people involved in fake registry of land for homes.
  6. Rights for the fishing community on the reservoir.
  7. Cases of oustees settled in Gujarat.
  8. Issues of farmers who have lost land for rehabilitation sites.


Sardar Sarovar project- key facts:

Taken up after the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal gave its final award vis-à-vis Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh in 1979.

Second biggest dam in terms of volume of concrete used in it. 

Third highest concrete dam in India.

Power generated from the dam would be shared among three states — Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.


What’s the concern with the project?

Water level in the submergence area of the dam in Barwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh is rising steadily.

As per Narmada Bachao Andolan group, 40,000 families in 192 villages in Madhya Pradesh would be displaced when the reservoir is filled to its optimum capacity.

According to the World Bank, the project started with very little assessment of resettlement and rehabilitation, and environmental impact.


Why is this project significant and what benefits has it got?

Unused Water from Narmada river, which would otherwise flow into the sea, could be used for serving many dry towns, villages and districts of Gujarat.

The project would employ about one million people starting from the start to end of the project.

Provide electricity to the unserved regions and also to the farmers.

Provide water for irrigation and for drinking purpose.

Provide flood protection to an area of about 30,000 hectares which is prone to the fury of floods.


What needs to be done?

  1. Task of rehabilitation and resettlement of affected people should be completed immediately.
  2. Need of an independent review of the project on continuous basis to fulfil the real objectives of the project.
  3. Studies should take into consideration the seasonal temporal variations in the climate and many other important parameters.
  4. Environment safeguards should be put in place.


Sources: the Hindu.