Title : THE DAM SAFETY BILL
Date : Dec 02, 2021
Topic à Government Policies and Interventions
- Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha have expressed grave reservations about the Centre's decision to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019, claiming that the legislation, which is ostensibly aimed at providing uniform safety measures across the country, will undermine state governments' powers because water is a state subject.
- The bill is overly concerned with structural rather than operational safety.
- People who are harmed by dams are not adequately compensated.
- An impartial regulator is required, as well as a specific definition of stakeholders.
- Many states argue that it infringes on state autonomy over dam management and breaches the federalism principles entrenched in the Constitution. They regard it as the Centre's attempt to consolidate authority under the pretence of security concerns.
- Stand of the Central Government:
- Despite the fact that the subject does not fall under Parliament's authority, the Centre has opted to file the bill because dam safety is a major worry in the country. In addition, there are no legal or institutional safeguards in place.
- Key features of the 2019 Dam Safety Bill:
- To ensure the safe operation of all listed dams in the country, the Bill mandates proper surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance.
- The bill establishes a National Committee on Dam Safety, which will develop dam safety policies and make recommendations for any laws that may be required.
- The bill establishes the National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory agency with the responsibility of implementing the country's dam safety policy, rules, and standards.
- The bill calls for the State Government to form a State Committee on Dam Safety.
- The Bill will assist all Indian states and union territories in adopting uniform dam safety protocols that will ensure dam safety and protect dam benefits. This will also aid in the protection of human life, animals, and property.
- It covers everything from monthly dam inspections to an emergency action plan, a full dam safety evaluation, enough repair and maintenance money for dam safety, and instrumentation and safety manuals. It places the burden of dam safety on the dam owner and includes penalties for certain activities committed or omitted.
- India has made significant investments in dams and related infrastructure over the last fifty years, and now ranks third in the world in terms of the number of big dams, behind the United States and China. There are currently 5254 big dams in operation in the country, with another 447 under construction. There are also tens of thousands of medium and small dams.
- While dams have played an important part in India's agricultural growth and development, there has long been a need for a unified legal and administrative framework to ensure dam safety.
- The Central Water Commission has been making constant efforts in this regard through the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), Central Dam Safety Organization (CDSO), and State Dam Safety Institutions (SDSO), however these organisations have no statutory authority and are mainly consultative in nature.
- This is concerning, especially considering 75% of India's big dams are over 25 years old, with 164 dams over 100 years old. Human life, flora and fauna, public and private assets, and the environment can all be endangered by a poorly managed, hazardous dam.
- In the past, 36 dams in India have failed.
- Source à The Hindu à 02/12/21 à Page Number 5
Tags : National Dam Safety Authority, National Committee on Dam Safety