Madhya Pradesh's top bureaucrat on Monday said nobody had imagined that the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in adjoining Gujarat will reach its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 138.68 metres ahead of schedule. Chief secretary SR Mohanty said the Madhya Pradesh government has been continuously writing to its Gujarat counterpart over the adverse impact of the dam water reaching its highest mark ahead of schedule.
For the first time since the height of the dam, built on the Narmada river, was raised in 2017, the water level has reached its highest peak at 138.68 metres. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the dam site at Kevadiya in Narmada district on his 69th birthday on Tuesday to attend the "Namami Narmade Mahotsava" to celebrate the water level milestone, the Gujarat government said on Monday.
"According to the Narmada Control Authority's programme, we had anticipated that the SSD would be filled to FRL by October 15. But it touched its FRL today," Mohanty told reporters here. "This has caused such a situation which you and I could not have imagined. But, we knew of its impact in the submergence area falling in its backwater (in Madhya Pradesh), the senior IAS officer added.
Asked whether the Kamal Nath government has lodged a protest with its Gujarat counterpart overfilling of the SSD before schedule, the top bureaucrat said, "we are continuously writing from our side". The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) had in 2014 granted permission to raise the height of the mega-dam to 138.68 metres from 121.92 metres. The dam, whose foundation stone was laid 56 years ago by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was inaugurated by Modi on September 17, 2017.
The dam aims to provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53% of total 18,144 villages in Gujarat) and irrigation facilities for 18.54 hectares of land, covering 3,112 villages in 15 districts in the western state. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has been demanding the dam's gates be opened immediately given that its backwater has partially or fully flooded 178 villages in Madhya Pradesh. The floodgates of SSD were closed on June 17, 2017, by the Gujarat government to allow storage of water.