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Parliament passes Dam Safety Bill, 2019

Fri 03 Dec 2021, 10:33:14
New Delhi: Parliament has passed the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 with the Rajya Sabha approving it yesterday. The House also approved the amendments moved by the government to the bill. The Lok Sabha had given its nod to the Bill in 2019.  The bill provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of the specified dam for prevention of dam failure related disasters and for institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning. 

The bill was moved by Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.The Rajya Sabha also negated the motion moved by DMK’s Tiruchi Shiva  regarding referring the Dam Safety Bill to Select Committee. Twenty six members voted in favour of it while 80 against the motion.

Replying to a debate on the Bill,  Mr Shekhawat said that the legislation has been brought with and intention of putting in place a protocol for dam safety.  He informed that of the total existing dams in different parts of the country,92 per cent of them are located on interstate rivers and their safety must be taken care of. He said, the damage to dams may cause huge harm to human lives as well as on whole riverine structure and ecosystem. 

Mr Shekhwat said, as per the Central Water Commission report, so far as many as 42 dams have breached and steps must be taken to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future and the bill is in that direction. He also informed that there are  14 such dams which are located in those states where the ownership lies with other States and added that  Central government will also ensure their safety.  

Allaying the apprehension of States,Mr Shekhwat said, the bill will no way encroaches the rights of State Governments with regard to the ownership of water, management of dams and generation of power.  
Earlier, initiating the discussion on the bill, Shaktisinh Gohil of Congress accused the Central Government of encroaching the rights of states through this legislation. 

He said, the bill is unconstitutional and demanded the government to refer it to Select Committee for further scrutiny. He said, the Centre has no right to frame bill with regard to state subjects as construction of dam and their management lies with states.

Participating in the debate, K. J. Alphons said that this bill is a tribute to federalism as water is a source of life. He said, the bill empowers the states, the same way, it empowers the Centre. Md.  Nadimul Haque of TMC also raised some issues with regard to provisions of the Dam Safety Bill and urged to refer the bill to Select Committee. 

DMK member T. K. S. Elangovan also demanded the bill to be referred to Select Committee saying that the State Government is capable of management of its dams and the Centre should focus on equal distribution of water. Prasanna Acharya of BJD also wanted the government to address few concerns relating to the bill.Members from the other parties including AAP, RJD, AIADMK  and DMK took part in the discussion.

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