India inaugurates Sardar Sarovar Dam after completing raising dam’s wall

India officially inaugurated the 1,450-MW Sardar Sarovar hydroelectric project on Sept. 17 after completing raising Sardar Sarovar Dam’s wall.

The entire project, estimated to cost US$8 billion, is located on the Narmada River, in the village of Kevadia in India’s western-most state of Gujarat.

India completed original construction of dam in December 2007 at 4,101-feet long by 400-feet high. In 2014, reported the water control board for the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan — Narmada Control Authority — approved plans to raise the Sardar Sarovar Dam wall. The dam’s final height includes the distance from its deepest foundation level to its top.

According to the project’s operator, government-owned Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd., the main dam is now 3,970-feet long by 534-feet high measured above the deepest foundation level, and its reservoir capacity is 4.75 million acre feet.

The project generates power from two locations: a 1,200 MW underground riverbed powerhouse has six, 200 MW reversible Francis-type turbines, supplied by Japan-based Sumitomo Group and India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd.; and a 250 MW powerhouse on the surface consisting of five, 50 MW Kaplan turbines.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam, according to its owner, is the world’s second largest dam in size after the dam at the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee hydro project in the U.S. state of Washington.

The Sardar Sarovar project is expected to provide power and water to 9,000 villages in three states: 16% to Gujarat, 27% to Maharashtra and 57% to Madhya Pradesh.

Construction of the dam began in 1987. But it soon became the focus of one of the world’s longest social and environmental campaigns. Nearly a decade was lost to a dispute between rival states over how to divide water and power from the dam, and at least five more years in protracted legal battles with activists from the Narmada Bachao Andolan, or Save the Narmada Movement.


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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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