The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
WHAT DOES THE BILL PROVIDE FOR
- Proper functioning: The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country in order to ensure their safe and proper functioning.
- National Committee on Dam Safety: The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
- National Dam Safety Authority: The Bill provides for the establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory authority which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines, and standards for dam safety in the country.
- State Committee: The Bill also provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by the respective State Government.
DAM SAFETY BILL, 2018
- The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 will address all the issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.
- It lays responsibility of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts
CONDITION OF DAMS IN INDIA
- In India, there are over 5200 large dams and about 450 are under construction and in addition to this, there are thousands of medium and small dams.
- Large dams: Maximum height of more than 15 meters from its deepest foundation of the crest.
- The largest dam in India: Tehri dam (height-260 meters, Inflow- Bhagirathi, Location-Uttarakhand)
- Dam safety in the country is an issue of concern due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety.
- Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
- Till now, 36 dam disasters have been reported in the country and the worst was in 1979 in Gujarat (Machudam in Morbi), where around 2,000 people died and 12,700 houses were destroyed.
- In 2012, the Centre initiated the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP-I) for strengthening dam safety and operational performance through comprehensive repair and rehabilitation work. The project will continue till June 2020.
FUNCTION OF NATIONAL DAM SAFETY AUTHORITY
- To communicate and cooperate: To maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of the dam for standardization of dam safety-related data practices.
- National level database and records: To maintain a national level database of all the dams in the country and the records of major dam failures and it shall examine the cause of any major dam failure.
- Publish guidelines and to inspect timely: To publish and update the standard guidelines and checklists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances.
- Assistance: To provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations
- Grant recognition: To accord recognition or accreditations to the organizations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
- Resolve issues: To look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in the State, for a proper solution.
- Whereas, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another States, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organisation thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
STATE COMMITTEE ON DAM SAFETY
- The State Committee on Dam Safety will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.
- It further provides that every State shall establish a ‘State Dam Safety Organisation’, which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geotechnical investigation, instrumentation, and dem-rehabilitation.
HOW THE BILL WILL BE BENEFICIAL
- Safety: The bill will help the states and union territories to adopt uniform safety procedures that will help in ensuring the safety of reservoirs.
- Regulatory body: The bill provides for a regulatory body to regulate the dams across the country. The body will not ensure proper implementation of the safety guidelines but also ensure timely inspection, standards for dam safety.
- Uniform Power: Earlier version of the legislation provided the State more power, in which the dam was located. The state could restrict the water storage level, even though the dam was owned by another State. The bill will ensure uniform safety procedures for all the states and union territories.
- Responsibility: The bill makes the owner of the dam responsible for any damage or loss, which will further help in ensuring proper implementation and safety.
THE ROAD AHEAD:
The draft law, ‘Dam Safety Bill, 2018’ approved by the Union Cabinet has been finalized after wide consultation with leading experts and international experts. It will be introduced in the Parliament in the forthcoming monsoon session beginning in July. After the final approval, the bill will come in force and ensure the safety of dams and help in safeguarding human life, livestock, and property.