Dam Safety Bill Current Affairs

Cabinet approves 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 aims to help all States and Union Territories to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which will ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This will also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.

Salient features of Bill

The bill address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, comprehensive dam safety review, emergency action plan, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, instrumentation and safety manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning. It mandates constitution of National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) which will evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.

The Bill also provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) as regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement policy, standards and guidelines for dam safety in the country. It also provides for constitution of State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS) by State Government.

National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA)

NDSA will maintain liaison with State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs) and owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices. It will provide technical and managerial assistance to States and SDSOs. It will maintain national level data-base of all dams in the country and records of major dam failures.

NDSA will examine cause of any major dam failure. It will publish and update standard guidelines and check-lists for routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams. It will also accord accreditations or recognition to organisations which can be entrusted with works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.

It will also look into unresolved points of issue between SDSOs of two states or between SDSO of State and owner of dam in that State, for proper solution. NDSA in certain cases, such as dams of one state falling under territory of another State will also perform role of SDSO to eliminate potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS)

SCDS will ensure proper inspection, surveillance, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning. It will ensures that every State establishes SDSO, which will be manned by officers from field dam safety preferably from areas of dam-designs, hydrology, hydro-mechanical engineering, instrumentation, geo-technical investigation and dam-rehabilitation.

Background

There are over 5200 large dams and about 450 dams are under construction in India. Moreover, there are thousands of small and medium dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in the country, dam safety has been issue of concern. Unsafe dams are hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.

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Government to enact law to enforce dam safety regulations

The Union Water Resources Ministry has drafted new dam safety bill to contemplate an institutional mechanism to improve safety of around 5300-odd dams across in India.

The new law has been vetted by the Union Law Ministry. It will now go to the Union Cabinet for approval and its introduction in Parliament. 

Need for such law

  • There are around 4900 large dams in India and several thousand smaller ones. However, large reservoirs and water storage structures, in the past few decades, are not seen as a model of safety.
  • The failure of these dams due to lack of safety could cause massive disaster such as the 1979 Machchu dam failure in Morbi, Gujarat, in which estimated 25,000 people were killed.
  • Recent analysis of the state of India’s dams also has found that half of them did not meet contemporary safety standards. So there is need of much stricter safety criteria.

Key facts

  • Currently, dam safety guidelines are not effectively enforced by the States. The dam safety bill, proposes a Central authority and State-level bodies that will enforce regulation.
  • It proposes safety criteria including increasing the spillway (a design structure to ease water build-up) and preventing ‘over-topping’ in which the dam overflows and causes it to fail.
  • It also proposes fine on dam and project proponents in the fall short, though they are unlikely to face imprisonment.

Month: Categories: Bills and ActsIndia Current Affairs 2018

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