- Opposition parties have criticised the Dam Safety Bill, 2019. They have opined that the bill would undermine the powers of State governments since Water is a State subject. The Dam Safety Bill aims to put uniform safety measures for dams across India.
- The Bill provides for the constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety. Functions of the Committee include: a) formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures, and b) analysing causes of major dam failures and suggesting changes in dam safety practices.
- The Bill also provides for establishing a National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body to implement the policy. The bill also provides for establishing State Dam safety Organizations (SDSO).
- Functions of the SDSOs include: a) keeping perpetual surveillance, inspecting, and monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, b) keeping a database of all dams, and c) recommending safety measures to owners of dams.
- The Bill lays the onus of the dam safety on the dam owner and requires the owners of specified dams to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
- The Bill provides penalties for commission and omission of certain acts. Offenders will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine, or both.
- As per National Register for Large Dams (NRLD), there are 5,254 large dams in operation and another 447 under-construction. Further there are numerous small and medium dams.
- The structural and operational safety of these dams is crucial because about 75% of large dams are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old.
3 min read