Bill on dam safety in budget session likely

Bill on dam safety in budget session likely

Bill on dam safety in budget session likely

With several dams across the country being nearly half-a-century old, the Centre has planned a legislation for their safety.

The proposed bill on safety of large dams is likely to be introduced in the budget session of Parliament beginning on Monday.

"We have prepared a legislation which aims to establish an institutional system to regularly monitor the safety of large dams," Water Resources Secretary U N Panjiyar said.

He said while some states like Bihar have their own dam safety laws, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have authorised Parliament to enact a law in this regard.

"As per constitutional provisions, if two or more states authorise Parliament to make a law on a state subject, the Centre can pass a law," he said, adding that other states can pass a resolution in their legislatures to adopt the Central law. Water is a state subject.

With several private players now involved in operating dams, they would also be covered under the proposed law.

"While the Centre will carry out the overall monitoring, states will have to set up their institutional system to ensure dam safety," Panjiyar added.

Under the new bill, a Dam Safety Cell will be set up at the project level, while a Dam Safety Organisation will be constituted at the state level.

Another similar organisation will be established at the level of the owner of the dam. The owner could either be government or a private operator.

The operators will have the obligation to allow inspections by experts to ascertain safety of the structure.

Asked if the proposed law was keeping in view any specific threats to dams, Panjiyar said it was a general law as dams need constant monitoring and strengthening. According to the National Register of Large Dams, 2009, India has 4,710 completed dams, while 390 dams are under construction.

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