- 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.
- 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.
- 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.