The Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat achieved its full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.68 meters for the first time this monsoon season. Authorities responded by opening 23 of the dam’s 30 sluice gates to release excess water flowing in from the catchment areas in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
Situated on the Narmada River, this dam is a vital lifeline for the western state of Gujarat, and reaching the FRL brought relief to both the administration and its citizens.
An official from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) reported that with 23 gates open to a height of 7.9 meters, a total of 18,41,566 cusecs of water was released into the Narmada River via the riverbed powerhouse. This release aimed to manage the 18,63,117 cusecs of water received from the catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh.
The increased water level prompted authorities to issue alerts and evacuate residents living along the Narmada River banks to safer locations. Over 250 individuals in Vadodara and more than 300 in Bharuch were relocated with the assistance of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local rescue teams.
In Vadodara, authorities also sought the aid of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to rescue 11 people stranded on an islet in the Narmada River in Karjan taluka. A previous rescue attempt by boat had failed due to the high water levels.
NDRF teams successfully rescued five men, a woman, and 10 children from Nani Sayer village in Karjan taluka.
Officials reported that they were closely monitoring the flood situation in low-lying areas along the Narmada River in the Narmada and Bharuch districts. The situation improved somewhat as the release of water from Indirasagar and Omkareshwar dams in Madhya Pradesh decreased.
Bharuch collector Tushar Sumera stated that the Narmada River’s water level in the district had reached 31 feet, exceeding the danger mark of 24 feet. He explained that they had relocated 338 people from low-lying areas as a precautionary measure, anticipating a level of 36 feet.
An SSNNL official emphasized that they were continuously monitoring the inflow and outflow of water from the dam, taking all necessary steps to minimize the impact of flooding. The quantity of water released from the Omkareshwar dam decreased from 15 lakh cusecs to 9,10,000 cusecs.
Several regions in Gujarat experienced heavy to very heavy rainfall in the 24-hour period ending at 6 am on Sunday. Central Gujarat districts, including Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur, Dahod, Mahisagar, Aravali, and Narmada, were the most severely affected, according to data from the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC). Morva Hadaf taluka in Panchmahal received 253 millimetres of rainfall during this period, followed by Chhota Udepur (247 mm), Shehera in Panchmahal (243 mm), and Dahod (238 mm).
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted a cyclonic circulation associated with a well-marked low-pressure area over west-central Madhya Pradesh, likely to move across northern parts of the Gujarat region and adjoining southeast Rajasthan over the next two days. This could result in exceptionally heavy rainfall in Dahod district on Sunday and heavy to very heavy rainfall in other parts of the state.
The IMD bulletin also indicated that rains were expected to persist in several areas of Gujarat over the next five days.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel visited Ekta Nagar, the location of the dam, on Sunday morning to pay homage to the Narmada River. He described the dam reaching its overflow mark as a “historic day for Gujarat” and extended birthday wishes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Patel credited the former Prime Minister’s strong willpower for the decision to raise the dam’s height, which was accomplished within 17 days of Modi taking office in 2014. The dam’s height was increased from 121.92 meters to 138.68 meters under his leadership.
“The north Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Kutch regions are now receiving Narmada dam water for irrigation and drinking, as per the government’s plans,” the Chief Minister told reporters, emphasizing their commitment to utilizing the water for various purposes, including filling up lakes.