Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will spend his 67th birthday in his native Gujarat on Sunday and dedicate the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation, amid protests and allegations of little work done on it, and to address two rallies, landed here late Saturday evening.
Modi, who was received by Governor O.P. Kohli and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at the Ahmedabad airport, drove straight to state capital Gandhinagar where he will put up for the night.
Official sources said he would begin his Sunday early by first calling on his mother Heeraba Modi, a tradition he has been following over the years.
The Prime Minister will visit two of his favourite projects on his birthday — the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project and the Statue of Unity being built in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
While a 182-metre Statue of Unity is a project conceived by Modi, he has also been consistently in favour of increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
The height of the dam was recently raised to 138.68 metres.
An official release said the increase in the dam height will facilitate a usable storage of 4.73 Million Acre Feet (MAF) and will greatly benefit the participating states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
It said that the project has helped transport the waters of the Narmada river to the water-deficient areas of Gujarat through an elaborate canal and pipeline network.
“Irrigation from the project is expected to benefit about 10 lakh farmers and drinking water to be supplied to various villages and towns is likely to benefit up to 4 crore people,” the release said.
The project has been described as one of the biggest human endeavours for water transport. Up to a billion units of hydropower are also expected to be generated annually.
From the dam site, the Prime Minister will travel to Sadhu Bet, where the Statue of Unity, an iconic statue and associated memorial complex for Sardar Patel, is currently under construction.
“The Prime Minister will be given an overview of the progress of work on this project. The project comprises a 182 metre tall statue, an exhibition hall, a memorial garden, and a Visitor Centre,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Modi will attend the closing ceremony of the Narmada Mahotsav and address the gathering at Dabhoi. The closing ceremony is also of a Narmada yatra taken out by the ruling BJP as part of the Mahotsav through 85 chariots that went around the state and would reach the dam site.
At several places on its route, the yatra faced hostile crowds protesting against the claims of the state government of providing Narmada dam waters across the parched regions of Gujarat.
Simultaneously, the opposition Congress has mocked the Prime Minister dedicating to the nation something, a major part of which was completed by the party during its rule before 1995. State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and a national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil asserted that “90 per cent of the mail canal of the dam and 88 metres were completed by the Congress between 1987 and 1995”.
“In as many as 22 years of the BJP’s rule, not even half of the work on creating minor and sub-minor canal network has been completed. You can see the water in the dam but it does not reach most of the farmers in the absence of a canal network. And the Prime Minister is adedicating it to the nation’,” said Gohil.
Meanwhile, Modi will lay the foundation stone for the National Tribal Freedom Fighters’ Museum during the event.
The Prime Minister will later visit Amreli, where he will inaugurate a new market yard of APMC. He will also inaugurate new plants of Amar Dairy, and lay the foundation stone of a honey production centre. He will address a gathering.