Sardar Sarovar Dam

The Sardar Sarovar Dam is a concrete gravity dam built on the Narmada River in Navagam near the town of Kevadiya, Narmada District, in the state of Gujarat, India. The dam was constructed to provide water and electricity to four Indian states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

Sardar Sarovar Dam
The Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river
Sardar Sarovar Dam is located in Gujarat
Sardar Sarovar Dam
Location of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat
Official nameSardar Sarovar Dam
LocationNavagam, Kevadia, Narmada District, Gujarat, India
Coordinates21°49′49″N 73°44′50″E / 21.83028°N 73.74722°E / 21.83028; 73.74722Coordinates: 21°49′49″N 73°44′50″E / 21.83028°N 73.74722°E / 21.83028; 73.74722
Construction beganApril 1987
Opening date17 September 2017
Owner(s)Government of Gujarat
Operator(s)Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited
Dam and spillways
Type of damGravity dam
ImpoundsNarmada River
Height138.68 meters
Height (foundation)163 m (535 ft)
Length1,210 m (3,970 ft)
Spillways30 (Chute spillway (auxiliary) – 7 : 18.30 m x 18.00 m, Service Spillway – 23 : 18.30 m x 16.75 m)
Spillway typeOgee
Spillway capacity86,944 m3/s (3,070,400 cu ft/s)
CreatesSardar Sarovar Reservoir
Total capacity9.460 km3 (7,669,000 acre⋅ft) (334.12 tmc ft)
Active capacity5.760 km3 (4,670,000 acre⋅ft) (203.44 tmc ft)
Inactive capacity3.700 km3 (3,000,000 acre⋅ft)
Catchment area88,000 km2 (34,000 sq mi)
Surface area375.33 km2 (144.92 sq mi)
Maximum length214 km (133 mi)
Maximum width16.10 km (10.00 mi)
Maximum water depth140m
Normal elevation138 m (453 ft)
Power Station
Operator(s)Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited
TurbinesDam: 6 × 200 MW Francis pump-turbine
Canal: 5 × 50 MW Kaplan-type[1]
Installed capacity1,450 MW
Annual generationVaries from 1 Billion kWh in surplus rainfall year to 0.86 Billion kWh in deficit year.
Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada River
Statue of Unity in front of Sardar Sarovar Dam.

The project was a vision of the first deputy Prime Minister of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (also known as Sardar Patel) and the foundation stone was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru. The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme funded by the World Bank through their International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity, using a loan of US$200 million.[2] 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 111 meters under directions from SC, which was later increased in 2006 to 123 meters and 139 meters in 2017. The Sardar Sarovar Dam is 1210 meters long.[3] The dam was inaugurated in 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.[4] The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam eventually reached its highest capacity at 138.7 metres on 15 September 2019.[5][6]

As one of the 30 dams planned on river Narmada, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is the largest structure to be built. It is the second largest concrete dam in the world in terms of the volume of concrete used in its construction, after the Grand Coulee Dam across the Columbia River, US.[7][8] It is a part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectricity multi-purpose dams on the Narmada River. After a number of 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.[9][10] The project will irrigate 1.9 million hectare area, most of it in drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra.

The dam's main power plant houses six 200 megawatts (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 50MW Kaplan turbine-generators. The total installed capacity of the power facilities is 1,450 MW.[11]

The tallest statue in the world, the Statue of Unity, faces the dam. This statue has been created as a symbol of tribute to the dam's visionary Sardar Patel.[12]


The dam is located in Gujarat's Narmada district and Kevadia village, on the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra. To the west of the dam, is Madhya Pradesh's Malwa plateau, where the Narmada river dissects the hills tracts and culminates in the Mathwar hills.[13]

The dam is 1,210 meters long and stands 163 meters tall. The Sardar Sarovar reservoir has a gross capacity of 0.95 million hectares meter and live storage capacity of 0.586 million hectares meter. It occupies an area of 37,000ha with an average length of 214km and width of 1.7km. The river catchment area above the dam site is 88,000 square kilometers. It has a spillway discharging capacity of 87,000 cubic meters a second.[14] This dam is one case study to learn about Integrated River Basin Planning, Development and Management.[15]

Water managementEdit

The reservoir operation in the catchment area during the monsoons (from July to October) is well synchronized with the rain forecast. The River Bed Power House (RPBH) is responsible for strategically maximizing the annual allocation of water share. It ensures that minimum water flows downstream and maximum water is used in the dam over flow period (generally in Monsoons). In non-monsoon months, RPBH takes measures to minimize the conventional and operational losses, avoiding water storage, restricting water intensive perennial crops, adoption of underground pipelines, proper maintenance of canals, related structures and operation of canals on a rotational basis.[16]


This project was envisioned by the first Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of this project in 1961.A thorough survey was carried out by his government to study the usage of the Narmada River which flows through states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to the Arabian Sea.[17]

As the river was shared between the three states (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh) there were disputes regarding sharing of water and other important resources. As the negotiations were not successful a report was created and the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) was established in 1969. In 1979 the NWDT gave its verdict after assessing all the reports.[18]

Importance in GujaratEdit

This dam is called 'the lifeline of Gujarat'. Seventy five percent of Gujarat's command area is considered a drought prone area, this dam will cater for domestic water supply to the regions of Kutch and Saurashatra. In 2021, for the first time Sardar Sarovar Dam provided waters for irrigation in summers.[19]

Narmada CanalEdit

The dam irrigates 17,920 km2 (6,920 sq mi) of land spread over 12 districts, 62 talukas, and 3,393 villages (75% of which is drought-prone areas) in Gujarat and 730 km2 (280 sq mi) in the arid areas of Barmer and Jalore districts of Rajasthan. The dam provides drinking water to 9490 villages and 173 urban centers in Gujarat; and 1336 villages & 3 towns in Rajasthan. The dam also provides flood protection to riverine reaches measuring 30,000 ha (74,000 acres) covering 210 villages and Bharuch city and a population of 400,000 in Gujarat.[20] Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation is a major program to help irrigate a lot of regions using the canal's water.

Solar power generationEdit

In 2011, the government of Gujarat announced plans to generate solar power by placing solar panels over the canal, making it beneficial for the surrounding Villages to get power and also helping to reduce the evaporation of water. The first phase consists of placing panels along a 25 km length of the canal, with a capacity for up to, 25 MW of power.[21]

Statue of UnityEdit

The Government of Gujarat constructed a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as a symbol of tribute. The dam stands in front of the dam and is considered as one of the major tourist attraction.[22]


Resettlement policy and strategyEdit

The Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal, setup by Indian government has provided a policy framework under which rehabilitation of affected people has been implemented.The guiding principles of this policy are:

  • Improve or at least regain the living standard of the project affected people prior to displacement.
  • Should be relocated to villages units or section according to their preference.
  • Integration with host community where they have settled.
  • Appropriately compensated for adequate social and physical rehabilitation including infrastructure and community services.
  • Active participation of affected people in planning of their rehabilitation.[23]

According to a research paper and survey done by Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar and Neeraj Kaushal: "Are Resettled Out sees from the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project Better off Today than their Former - despite implementation glitches, those displaced were far better off than their former forest neighbors in ownership of a range of assets including TVs, cellphones, vehicles, access to schools and hospitals, and agricultural markets. The gap in asset ownership and other outcomes between the treatment and comparison groups was often statistically larger if the heads of the household were illiterate compared to the gap if they were literate. This finding suggests that resettlement helped vulnerable groups more than the less vulnerable and that fears that resettlement will destroy the lives and lifestyles of tribal have been grossly exaggerated."[24]


The dam is one of India's most controversial, and its environmental impact and net costs and benefits are widely debated.[25]The World Bank was initially funding, but withdrew in 1994 at the request of the Government of India when the state governments were unable to comply with the loan's environmental and other requirements.[26] The Narmada Dam has been the center of controversy and protests since the late 1980s.[27]

One such protest takes center stage in the Spanner Films documentary Drowned Out (2002), which follows one tribal family who decide to stay at home and drown rather than make way for the Narmada Dam.[28] An earlier documentary film is called A Narmada Diary (1995) by Anand Patwardhan and Simantini Dhuru. The efforts of Narmada Bachao Andolan ("Save Narmada Movement") to seek "social and environmental justice" for those most directly affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam construction feature prominently in this film. It received the (Filmfare Award for Best Documentary-1996).[29]

The figurehead for most part of the protest is Medha Patkar, the leader of the NBA.[30] Patkar's role is questioned in the protest as she is accused of money laundering.[31] Other notable figures who participated in the protest were Baba Amte, Arundhati Roy and Aamir Khan.[32]

Height increasesEdit

The Sardar Sarovar Dam undergoing height increase in 2006
Sardar Sarovar Dam after height increase
  • 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).[9]
  • 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 110.6 m (363 ft) to 121.9 m (400 ft). This came after 2003 when the Supreme Court of India refused to 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.[33]
  • In June 2014, Narmada Control Authority gave the final clearance to raise the height from 121.9 m (400 ft) metres to 138.6 m (455 ft).[34]
  • The Narmada Control Authority decided on 17 June 2017 to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to its fullest height 163-metre by ordering the closure of 30 gates.
  • The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district reached its highest capacity at 138.7 metres on 15 September 2019.[5][6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Plants — Asia-Pacific". IndustCards. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  2. ^ Original report – Narmada dam development project (PDF). Washington DC: World Bank. 6 February 1985. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Sardar Sarovar Dam: Years of dispute, finally full height". 18 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Modi Inaugurates World's Second Biggest Dam On His Birthday". Huffingtonpost. 17 September 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Sardar Sarovar dam water level touches its highest mark". The Economic Times. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Sardar Sarovar Dam Water Level Touches its Highest Mark, PM Modi to Visit Site on Sept 17". News18. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  7. ^ "PM Modito inaugurate world's second biggest dam on September 17". The Indian Express. Indo-Asian News Service. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Narendra Modi inaugurates Sardar Sarovar Dam". Al Jazeera. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b "BBC News — SOUTH ASIA — Go-ahead for India dam project". BBC.
  10. ^ "Sardar Sarovar Power Complex". Narmada Control Authority. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  11. ^ "World bank projects in India – Narmada development". World Bank. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Tallest statue". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  13. ^ "Sardar Sarovar Dam Narmada View · RPJW+VQH, Narmada, Gujarat 393140, India". Sardar Sarovar Dam Narmada View · RPJW+VQH, Narmada, Gujarat 393140, India. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), Gujarat - Water Technology". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  15. ^ Gupta, Rajiv K. (March 2001). "River Basin Management: A Case Study of Narmada Valley Development with Special Reference to the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat, India". International Journal of Water Resources Development. 17 (1): 55–78. doi:10.1080/713672562. ISSN 0790-0627. S2CID 154927607.
  16. ^ "Explained: How Sardar Sarovar Dam is providing irrigation water in summer for the first time in history". The Indian Express. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  17. ^ "A short history of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada". The Indian Express. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  18. ^ "History of NWDT | Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  19. ^ "Explained: How Sardar Sarovar Dam is providing irrigation water in summer for the first time in history". The Indian Express. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  20. ^ "Main Features of the Dam". Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  21. ^ "Soon, solar power panels on Narmada canal:Modi". dna.
  22. ^ "Statue of Unity". gujrattourism. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  23. ^ Shelat, Uday. "Resettlement in Narmada River Basin" (PDF). Department of Architecture and Planning the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India: 16.
  24. ^ Swaminathan. "Are Resettled Outsees from the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project Better off Today than their Former" (PDF). NBER Working Paper No. 24423.
  25. ^ Verghese, Boobli George (30 November 2000). "The verdict and after". DownToEarth. Archived from the original on 12 November 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ World Bank (1995). "Annex 2: Government Cancellation of Bank Loan". Project Completion Report: India: Narmada River Development — Gujarat: Sardar Sarovar Dam and Power Project: Annexes to Part I, and Part III. p. 148 (page 23 of 61 of Annex 2).
  27. ^ Scudder, Thayer (2003), India's Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) (PDF), unpublished manuscript, archived (PDF) from the original on 27 May 2020
  28. ^ "Drowned Out: The first 10 minutes of Drowned Out". OneWorldTV. 28 July 2009.
  29. ^ "A Narmada Diary". Archived from the original on 21 February 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  30. ^ Friends of River Narmada. Retrieved 9 July 2007 The Sardar Sarovar Dam: a Brief Introduction
  31. ^ "FIR against social activist Medha Patkar in Madhya Pradesh". Hindustan Times. 10 July 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  32. ^ "A short history of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada". The Indian Express. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  33. ^ "7000 villagers relocated after water level in Narmada dam crosses 130m". Express News Service. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  34. ^ "NCA permits raising Narmada dam height after eight years". The Times of India. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.


External linksEdit