The plan for harnessing the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin, was initiated in 1946. Seven projects including the Bharuch project were identified during the initial survey, and 4 projects- Bharuch (Gujarat), Bargi, Tawa and Punasa in Madhya Pradesh- were given top priority for investigation. After the completion of investigation, the proposed dam at Gora in Gujarat with the full reservoir level (FRL) 161 feet (49.80metres) was selected and the foundation stone was laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 5th April, 1961. However, as more detailed and modernised contour sheets from the Survey of India were available , the possibility of raising the height of the dam, for optimum utilisation of water, was considered.
In 1964, to resolve the dispute about sharing of the Narmada Water between the governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the government of India appointed an expert committee under the Chairmanship of late Dr. Khosla which recommended a higher dam with FRL 500 feet (152.44metre) in 1965. However, no agreement could be arrived at and the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) was constituted by the Government of India in 1969, under the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.