If built, the Narmada Valley project would contain 30 large dams, 135 medium dams, and 3,000 small dams covering an 815-mile stretch along the Narmada River and its subsidiaries. The project has dragged on for over a half century due to concerns of citizen groups and poor planning.
The foundations for the Sardar Sarovar—the largest and first dam in the project—were laid in 1961, but full construction did not begin until 1979. Starting in 1999, when the dam was 80 meters tall, its height rose five separate times, and now stands at almost 122 meters. Each time the height of the dam has been raised, more of the surrounding land has become submerged, and more of the surrounding people have been displaced.
When completed—and who knows when that will be—the full project is expected to displace up to 1.5 million people in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The Narmada Valley Project is not without its positive aspects, however. It could irrigate enough land to feed 20 million people, provide industrial water for 30 million people, and is expected to generate 4000 megawatts of energy.
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