Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujarat | Dams In India

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Sardar Sarovar Dam

A reservoir is on the Narmada River near Navagam in Gujarat, in India, the Sardar Sarovar Dam. For Indian states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, and Rajasthan, receive water and electricity supplied from the dam. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone for the project on 5 April 1961.

The venture came into existence in 1979 as part of a World Bank funding development plan to increase irrigation and generate hydropower with a loan of US$ 200 million through their International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The construction for dam begun in 1987, but the project was stalled by the Supreme Court of India in 1995 in the backdrop of Narmada Bachao Andolan over concerns of displacement of people.

In 2000–01 the project was revived but with a lower height of 110.64 meters under directions from SC, which was later increased in 2006 to 121.92 meters and 138.98 meters in 2017.  The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya in Narmada district reached its highest capacity at 138.68 meters on 15 September 2019.

Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) is the largest dam to be installed, one of the 30 dams on the Narmada River. It is part of the Narmada River plan, which includes the development of a series of large dams and multifunctional hydro-electric barrages on the river Narmada. It is a major hydraulic venture.

The main power plant for the dam is composed of six 200 MW Francis pump turbines for power generation and pumped storage. In addition, there are five 50 MW Kaplan turbine-generators at an intake power station for the main canal. The installed power plant’s total capacity is 1,450 MW.

Official name
Narmada valley
Navagam, Kevadiya Colony, India
21°49′49″N 73°44′50″E
Construction began
Opening date
Construction cost
25 billion rupees
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,
Maharastra, Rajasthan.
Dam and spillways
Type of dam
gravity dam,
Narmada River
138.68 meters
Height (foundation)
163 m (535 ft)
1,210 m (3,970 ft)
84,949 m3/s (2,999,900 cu ft/s)
9.5 km3 (7,700,000 acre⋅ft)
5.8 km3 (4,700,000 acre⋅ft)
88,000 km2 (34,000 sq mi)
Surface area
375.33 km2 (144.92 sq mi)
214 km (133 mi)
1.77 km (1.10 mi)
water depth
138 m (453 ft)
Power Station
Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited
Commission date
Dam: 6 × 200 MW Francis pump-turbine,
Canal: 5 × 50 MW Kaplan-type
1,450 MW [1 Billion kWh every year]

Geographical location

To the southwest Malwa plateau, the dissected hill tracts culminate in the Mathwar hills, located in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Below these hills, the Narmada river flows through a long, terrific gorge. This gorge extends into Gujarat where the river is tapped by the Sardar Sarovar dam.


Narmada Canal

The dam irrigates 17,920 km2 in Gujarat and 730 km2 in the arid areas of Barmer and Jalore districts, spread across 12 regions, 62 talukas and 3,393 villages, 75 percent of which are areas that are prone to drought. Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation is a major program to help irrigate a lot of regions using the canal’s water.

Solar power generation

In 2011, the Gujarat government announced it would produce energy through the use of solar panels on the canal to provide power and enable the surrounding villages to reduce water evaporation. The first phase involves panels with a power of up to 25 MW along with a 25 km length of a canal route.



The reservoir is one of the most controversial in India, and the impact of the dam on the environment, the cost-efficiency and the benefits of it are widely debated. The Narmada Dam has been the center of controversy and protests since the late 1980s.

Another such protest is based in the Spanner Films movie Drowned Out (2002), which portrays a tribal community who decides to stay at home and drown rather than make way for the Narmada Dam.

An earlier documentary film is A Narmada Diary (1995) by Anand Patwardhan and Simantini Dhuru. This movie is influential in Narmada Bachao Andolan’s efforts to find “social and environmental equality” for those most impacted by the development of the Sardar Sarovar dam. It was awarded the (Best Documentary Film Award-1996).

The figurehead of much of the protest is Medha Patkar, the leader of the NBA. The movement was cemented in 1989 and received the Right Livelihood Award in 1991.

In an opinion piece in The Guardian, the campaign led by the NBA activists was accused of holding up the project’s completion and of even physically attacking local people who accepted compensation for moving.

The protests were also supported by Arundhati Roy, the Indian writer, in a protest by the Narmada Dam Project, who wrote “The Grand Common Good,” an essay reproduced in The Cost of Living. In the essay, Arundhati Roy states:-

“Big Dams are to a Nation’s “Development” what Nuclear Bombs are to its Military Arsenal. They are both weapons of mass destruction. They’re both weapons Governments use to control their own people. Both Twentieth Century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival. They’re both malignant indications of civilization turning upon itself. They represent the severing of the link, not just the link—the understanding—between human beings and the planet they live on. They scramble the intelligence that connects eggs to hens, milk to cows, food to forests, water to rivers, air to life and the earth to human existence”

Height increases

  • In February 1999 the Supreme Court of India granted the initial 80 m (260 ft) to increase the dam height to 88 m.
  • The Authority allowed a height increase of 15 m (49 ft) to 110 m (360 ft) in March 2004.
  • The Narmada Control Authority in March 2006 allowed an increase in the height of the dam from 110.64 m to 121.92 m (363.0 ft) in March 2006.
  • Heavy rainfall elevated the reservoir to 131,5 m (431 ft.) in August 2013 forcing the upstream movement of 7000 villagers along the Narmada River.
  • In June 2014, the final approval for the rising from 121.92 meters (400.0 ft) to 138.68 m (455,0 ft) was issued by the Narmada control authority.

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