Cabinet approves Bill for dam safety

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The Union Cabinet approved a proposal for enactment of a new Dam Safety Bill, 2018, among several decisions taken Wednesday.

Highlights

  • Union minister Piyush Goyal said the Bill, which incorporates recommendations made by a Standing Committee of Parliament, will be introduced in the House soon.
  • The Bill seeks to establish a national regulatory body for dam safety and create a database of the existing dams.
  • The Dam Safety Bill will help states and Union Territories to make “uniform dam safety procedures” to ensure safety of dams, and help safeguard human life, livestock and property.
  • India has more than 5,200 large dams and another 450 are under construction.
  • The Bill “lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts,” the government said in a statement.

Dam Safety Bill, 2018

 Background

  • There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
  • The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 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, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

Benefits

  • It will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  • The draft Bill has been finalised after wide consultation with leading Indian experts and international experts.

Details

  • The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
  • 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.
  • The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  • The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 

National Dam Safety Authority:

  • It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices;
  • It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations;
  • It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances;
  • It shall 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 proper solution;
  • Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

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