Economics

Dam Safety Bill gets nod from CCEA

The News:

  • The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) has recently approved the dam safety bill, 2019.
  • Now, the Centre is set to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 in Parliament.

Dams in India:

  • As per the latest official data, the country has 5,264 large dams in the country, while 437 dams are under construction.
  • In addition to these dams, there are thousands of other small and medium dams in the country.
  • Of the total large dams, 293 dams are more than 100 years old and 1,041 dams are more than 50 years old.

Need for the Safety Bill:

  • In the absence of a proper legal framework, safety and maintenance of these large number of dams are a cause of concern.
  • Some dams are located in a state but are owned by some other state without any fix responsibility for their maintenance.

Background on the Bill:

  • Various editions of the Bill have been introduced since 2010 but it has never been successfully passed, largely due to opposition by States at various times.
  • A version of the Dam Safety Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2018. However the bill subsequently lapsed after opposition from states.
  • The bill was opposed by Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha on the grounds that it encroaches upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams.

Dam Safety Bill, 2019

  • The dam safety bill, 2019 provides for proper monitoring inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country.

Objective:

  • The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of specified dams across the country.
  • The Bill also provides for the institutional mechanism to ensure the safety of such dams.
Image result for dam safety bill

Features:

  • It will fix the accountability of dam maintenance with penal provisions.
  • It will create a National Committee On Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and necessary regulations.
  • It will also create a National Dam Safety Authority as a regulator to implement policy, guidelines, and standards for dam safety. It will maintain and publish data of all dams and resolve inter-state disputes.
  • The bill will also create dam safety committees and dam safety organisations at state level with specialist officers
    • Every state shall establish a ‘State Dam Safety Organisation’ which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety.

National Committee on Dam Safety:

  • The Committee will be chaired by the Chairperson, Central Water Commission.
  • Functions of the Committee include:
    • formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures, and
    • analysing causes of major dam failures and suggesting changes in dam safety practices.

National Dam Safety Authority:

Functions of the Authority include:

  • implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety,
  • resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state,
  • specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams, and
  • providing accreditation to agencies working on construction, design, and alteration of dams.

Note: At present both these authorities exist under the central water commission (CWC), however, they lack a legal mechanism to enforce their orders.

Applicability of the Bill:

  • The Bill applies to all specified dams in the country. These are dams with:
    • height more than 15 metres, or
    • height between 10 metres to 15 metres and subject to certain additional design and structural conditions.

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