In 1946 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had dreamed of a dam on the River
Narmada. An extensive survey and study by the distinguished engineer
Shri Navabali showed that a dam could be built across the river.
On 5 April 1961, the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
performed the Shilanyas, foundation-stone laying ceremony, of the dam.
Then for the next 19 years work on the Sardar Sarovar dam was paralysed
due to political reasons.
In 1980 work began at a snail's pace with political and financial hiccups.
Then a major setback came in 1994. The Narmada Bachav Andolan under
Medha Patkar, launched a campaign against the project on environmental
and rehabilitation grounds. The Supreme Court in New Delhi granted a
stay on the project on these grounds. From 1994 to 1998 the multi-million
rupee project remained in the doldrums. On 27 January, 1999, prior to
the commencement of the case in the Supreme Court the chairman of Narmada
Nigam, Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, sought Pramukh Swami Maharaj's
blessings at Bochasan, Gujarat. Swamishri blessed him saying, "The
judgement will come in our favour and the Narmada waters will flow to
the drought-prone regions."
In May 2000 the hearing concluded and the patient, anxious wait for
the judgement began. In June when the Narmada Development minister,
Shri Jaynarayan Vyas, met Pramukh Swami Maharaj at Gandhinagar he was
in a dejected mood because of the legal wrangles. Swamishri assured
him that there will be no delay this time. He blessed Shri Jaynarayan
Vyas saying, "This time it will be accomplished - one, two, three
On Wednesday, 18 October 2000, the Supreme Court pronounced judgement
for the resumption of the work on the dam to a height of 138 metres
as per the tribunal award. The dam at present is at a height of 85 metres.
The Supreme Court judgement written by Justice B.N.Kirpal on behalf
of the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice A.S. Anand and another
member, Justice S.P. Bharucha, said that the construction to the height
of 90 metres could be taken up immediately and further construction
to 138 metres was subject to clearance from environmental and rehabilitation
The Supreme Court judgement was welcomed by the people of the state
of Gujarat amidst scenes of jubilation. Assemblies were held in honour
of the efforts by the Government of Gujarat.
On 22 October, 2000 during an impressive Narmada Support Assembly at
the Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir, Shahibaug, Amdavad, Shri
Jaynarayan Vyas and Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama were felicitated for
the memorable victory. During the assembly, Jaynarayan Vyas revealed
it was not only their efforts that saw the favourable judgement but
the unanimous support of the people of Gujarat and blessings of Pramukh
BAPS Sanstha &
The Narmada project is a lifeline that will provide water to the parched
and often water-starved regions of Gujarat, Kutch, Saurashtra, Rajasthan,
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The recent judgement of the Supreme
Court of India sanctioning the proposed height for the dam will forever
remain a red-letter day for the people of Gujarat. And throughout the
four decades of the project's history the people of Gujarat, regardless
of caste or creed, have unanimously supported it.
On this occasion His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who has
consistently supported the project for the last 15 years, conveyed his
congratulations and blessings to all those engaged in this herculean
The late Yogiji Maharaj had always prayed for the success of the project
and for its waters to reach Kutch and Saurashtra. Whenever he crossed
the Narmada, he always paid respects and prayed for the completion of
On many occasions in the last several years Gujarat has been reeling
under severe drought. During these calamitous periods, Pramukh Swami
Maharaj had undertaken many relief projects - cattle camps, fodder distribution,
buttermilk and alms distribution centers. He had inspired sadhus and
volunteers of the Sanstha during the drought years of 1987-88 in setting
up and conducting cattle camps and relief distribution centres in Kutch
Campaign by Sadhus
Several supportive campaigns by BAPS Sanstha for the Narmada
Dam Project have been initiated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His zeal and
compassion were born out of seeing the distress people faced in farming
and their day-to-day existence. Having visited more than 15,000 villages
of Gujarat Swamishri has a clear picture of the tribulations people
face due to water shortage.
In 1990, 25,000 youths of the BAPS had congregated at Vidyanagar for
an international youth convention. In his address to the youths Swamishri
said, "The building of a dam on the River Narmada is necessary
and a great service to the nation. Yogiji Maharaj had blessed this project,
therefore, it should be completed. For this the whole of Gujarat is
united and each one of us should be vigilant. Let the opponents protest.
Let us pray to God to grant them wisdom.... To raise trees is also a
service to society. Make an effort for it and strive to resolve the
misunderstandings people have about the Narmada project."
While addressing a massive Narmada Support Rally on 7.6.1990 in Mumbai
Swamishri said, "We are Indians and Gujaratis. We have never fallen
back anywhere and shall never march backwards. And the political parties
and organisations of Gujarat and Maharashtra and abroad should with
one voice say, 'The Narmada Dam Project will be completed.' The dam
height should not be decreased by even one inch. Like the River Ganga,
the Narmada is holy and sacred. It is important that such sentiments
should always prevail in us all. Let us prove that the proverbial saying,
'Gujaratis are brave at the beginning....' is false and let us show
that our bravery shall endure till the end."
Thereafter, Swamishri had sent his group of sadhus and youths to more
than 100 villages of Gujarat to inform people about the Narmada project
and to answer their queries. The sadhus resol-ved the misunderstandings
propagated by antagonists among the tribal population who were to be
relocated. Prior to this dam project, the sadhus had also inspired thousands
to refrain from smoking, drinking and meat eating. For the last 18 years,
the sadhus and youths of the BAPS have remained in personal contact
with the oustees in the region of Kevadia and Rajpipala and made countless
more aware of the importance of the Narmada project through public assemblies
in the districts of Vadodara, Panchmahal and Bharuch.
In response to a debate on the effect of the dam to the environment
the Gujarat Government had introduced a 'Forest Rearing Campaign.' Prior
to this Swamishri had already launched a massive tree plantation project.
He had also initiated the planting of neem, teak and eucalyptus trees
on the Sanstha's mandir farmlands. Then through the project, 'Sahajanand
Vun,' hundreds of thousands of trees have flourished into sylvan areas.
On encouraging the rearing of saplings Swamishri said it was devotion
to God (Bhakti). In 1990, 225,000 trees were planted and reared into
'Shriji Narmada Vun' and 'Sahajanand Vun.' Even today the tree-planting
programme is an on-going project of the Sanstha.
To support the Narmada project the BAPS has invested Rs.5 million in
bonds. Similarly, many thousands of devotees have also invested on Swamishri's
During December 1990, the government had orga-nised peaceful marches
in support of the Dam project in Ferkuva. At the government's request
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had enjoined hundreds of BAPS sadhus and thousands
of devotees in this programme. And to cater food to the participants
and visitors a free kitchen was opened at the Swaminarayan Mandir in
Atladra from 25 December, 1990 to 3 January, 1991. More than 45,000
food packets were also prepared and distributed. Another kitchen was
opened near the site of the peace march. More than 150,000 people had
participated in this peace march. At Swamishri's instruction, thousands
of devotees from Amdavad, Vadodara, Surat and other major cities of
Gujarat had participated in the Ferkuva march.
On 31 December 1990, Baba Amte and his group assembled to oppose the
dam project but on seeing the mass crowd supporting the cause in Ferkuva
he returned back silently.
During the 35 years since Yogiji Maharaj had wished for the completion
of the Narmada Dam project, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has never relaxed
in his effort to make it into a reality. Whenever a politician or prominent
social worker came to see him, he always told them to expedite the project.
And his prayers to Lord Swaminarayan have remained unceasing.
On 21 January 1998, Swamishri visited the Narmada Dam - Sardar Sarovar
Project and blessed the massive efforts of all those involved. Swamishri
offered pujan to the River Narmada and prayed for its brisk completion
without any further obstacles and delay.
On 26 May 2000, Swamishri landed in New Delhi to see and sanctify the
newly acquired land for Akshardham. On his way from the airport to the
Satsang centre, while passing by the Supreme Court Swamishri had Lord
Hari-krishna Maharaj bless the court with His divine eyes and prayed
that the judgement be made in our favour.
Recently, when Swamishri came to hear of a petition to be presented
by the protestors of the Dam project to Prime Minister Vajpayee during
his visit to America, he appealed to thousands of resident Gujaratis
in America to sign a petition supporting the Narmada cause. In a matter
of hours, 11,000 signatures were gathered. Eventually 52,000 signatures
were e-mailed including 28,452 handwritten hard copies, to the Prime
Minister. The impact of this response was substantial and noteworthy.
Through the patient, inexhaustible efforts of the Government of Gujarat,
millions of people and the prayers, blessings and efforts of Pramukh
Swami Maharaj, the Supreme Court of India has sanctioned the continuation
and completion of the project. Swamishri offered his prayers to the
Lord for the completion of the Narmada Dam Project at the earliest and
for the waters to flow on the parched lands of Gujarat. He has also
prayed for the early availability of electricity and water to the people
of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.