India developer continues work on 1,450-MW Sardar Sarovar

Although developer Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) has commissioned all 11 units of the 1,450-MW Sardar Sarovar hydroelectric project, work continues on aspects of the project nearly two decades after it was begun.

Authorities hailed completion of the giant dam in Gujarat State in December 2006, in a ceremony in which the last bucket of concrete was poured on the wall of the US$7.7 billion dam. (HNN 1/3/07)

Since then, SSNNL has continued additional civil work on spillway and irrigation canals. The state-run company reported June 3 that it will continue to increase the height of the main dam �from time to time� subject to necessary clearances.

The height of the main spillway has been raised to 121.92 meters. Canals and other works are to be completed in phases.

SSNNL said it expects the entire project to be completed by 2009 or 2010.

Sardar Sarovar is the centerpiece of the multi-billion-dollar Narmada Valley development project that taps the Narmada, India’s fifth-largest river, through a series of dams, reservoirs, and canals. Sardar Sarovar has a main powerhouse with six 200 MW reversible Francis units. Another powerhouse, with five 50 MW Kaplan turbines, is supplied with water from the giant canal system.

The dam is to connect an 86,000-kilometer network of canals, help irrigate 1.8 million hectares of farmland, and provide drinking water to 20 million people in Gujarat and neighboring states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The dam also will help control floods, while its two power plants generate peaking power.

Construction of the dam, which is 1,250 meters long and 122 meters tall, 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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