Union Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament. The bill will enable all states and union territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures that will not only ensure the safety of the dams but will also safeguard their benefits.
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 13, 2018 approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
The draft bill has been finalised after wide consultation with leading Indian experts and international experts.
The bill will enable all states and union territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures that will not only ensure the safety of the dams but will also safeguard their benefits.
The uniformity will also help in protecting human life, livestock and property.
Key Features of the Bill
• The Bill will provide for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
• It will provide for the constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety that will evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as required for the purpose.
• It will also provide for the constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by the state government.
• It will also enable the establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body, which will discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
The Bill will address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, emergency action plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety and instrumentation and safety manuals.
Under the bill’s provisions, the responsibility of ensuring dam safety will lay on the dam owner.
The bill will also provide for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.
• The national authority will be required to maintain contact with the state dam safety organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety-related data and practices.
• It will provide technical and managerial assistance to the states and state dam safety organizations.
• It will also help maintain a national level database of all the dams in the country and the records of major dam failures.
• It will also be required to examine the cause of any major dam failure.
• Further, the authority will publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances.
• It will also accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
• It will also 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 that state, for a proper solution.
• In cases where dams of one state fall under the territory of another state, the national authority will perform the role of state dam safety organisation thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
The committee will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that state and ensure their safe functioning.
It provides that every state should establish a ‘State Dam Safety Organisation", which will be manned by officers from the field of dam safety, preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geo-technical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.
There are over 5200 large dams and thousands of medium and small dams in India. Some 450 more are under construction currently.
However, due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern.
Unsafe dams are potential hazards, as dam break may cause a huge disaster, leading to massive loss of life and property.