The Union Cabinet on July 17, 2019, approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2019 in Parliament, which will help in meeting requirement of having uniform safety procedures for specified dams in the country.
The Bill aims to put in place a systematic procedure to ensure that India’s 5,600 dams are made and maintained safely.
Various editions of the Bill have been introduced since 2010, however the Bill has never been successfully passed due to opposition by States at various times. Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have opposed the Bill on the grounds that it encroaches upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams.
The Bill entails the establishment of a National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body, which will implement the policy, guidelines, and standards on dam safety in the country.
State committee on dam safety will be set up by the state governments. Every state will also set up a State Dam Safety Organisation.
A national committee on dam safety will also be set up to evolve safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.
As per officials, the Bill will address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, emergency action plan, adequate repair and maintenance funds, and instrumentation and safety manuals.
The Bill lays the onus of the dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for wilful commission and omission of certain acts.