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Advani triggers reconstruction work on Sardar Sarovar

Home Minister L K Advani inaugurates work on the controversial Narmada dam and is watched by nearly 300,000 spectators, reports A Special Correspondent

Ahmedabad, October 31

Sentiments in Gujarat ran high as construction work resumed on Tuesday, October 31, on the multi-billion-rupee Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) following a Supreme Court order in favour of the controversial dam. Nearly 300,000 people, most of them transported to the site by the state government free of cost, witnessed the glittering function held at the Kevadia Colony dam site.

Sharp at 12.39 pm, considered an auspicious time in Gujarat, Union Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani, who pressed a button to trigger a device that dropped a tonne of concrete on the dam as a symbolic start to construction work, said after the ceremony, "1998 will be remembered for Pokharan nuclear blasts, 1999 for the Kargil conflict with Pakistan and now 2000 for the Narmada verdict."

Tribals dressed in their traditional costumes and armed with bows and arrows performed traditional dances near the venue of the function held on the banks of the river and just next to the dam which presently is 85 m above the sea level. The Supreme Court has granted permission to raise the level to 90 m - still a far cry from the stipulated dam height of 138 m on completion.


Tribals dressed in their traditional costumes and
armed with bows
and arrows
performed
traditional dances near the venue


All roads leading to the project site were jammed with vehicles ferrying people who wanted
to join the festivities. Said Joitaram Patel, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader
from Ahmedabad, "We have waited four long years and combated successive
droughts to wait for this day.
This day will mark a
transformation in the fortunesof Gujarat as a whole."

An elated Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel said, "Gujarat will never forget this day, let us all pledge ourselves to the completion of the project which has been held up for too long." The entire gathering, which included ministers from the Central government and the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, also took a pledge to complete the Narmada project speedily.

The state government of Gujarat had pulled out all stops to make the function a memorable event by pressing into service nearly 3,200 state transport buses from various towns and cities for anyone wanting a free trip to Kevadia to join the celebrations which come after a prolonged court battle which recently went in Gujarat's favour.

On the occasion, a 2-tonne, 12-ft-high statue of the country's first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel whose 126th birth anniversary fell today and after whom the project is named, was unveiled by Advani at the point which gives a panoramic view of the massive dam. The Supreme Court had on October 18 given the go-ahead to Gujarat to raise the dam height from its present 85 m to 90 m after legal wrangling that lasted almost four years.

 








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