TN Assembly passes resolution against Dam Safety bill, wants consensus

PTI Chennai | Updated on June 26, 2018 Published on June 26, 2018

A file photo of Tamil Nadu State secretariat in Fort St. George in Chennai.   -  M Prabhu

The resolution was passed unanimously.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly today adopted a “unanimous” resolution urging the Centre to “keep in abeyance” all efforts towards enacting the Dam Safety Bill 2018 and called for evolving a consensus on the matter with all states.

A special government resolution moved by Chief Minister K Palaniswami in the state Assembly received the full support of the DMK-led opposition, even as the resolution highlighted possible “problems” that could crop up over the operation and maintenance of dams by Tamil Nadu located in other states.

In his remarks before moving the resolution, Palaniswami recalled late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s opposition to earlier draft bills on the issue, and said the latest bill could affect operation and maintenance of dams including the Mullaperiyar located in neighbouring Kerala.

Infringing upon ‘rights’

The resolution moved by Palaniswami said the Dam Safety Bill 2018 had provisions that could “affect Tamil Nadu’s rights” as well as impact the operation and maintenance of dams located in other states. “This House urges the Centre to keep in abeyance all efforts towards enacting the proposed Dam Safety Bill (2018) into a law till states are consulted and a consensus evolved,” the resolution said.

DMK Deputy Leader Durai Murugan, who spoke on the resolution, said the bill was “yet another proof that Centre is acting in an authoritarian manner,” and welcomed and supported the resolution on behalf of his party.

DMK’s allies—Congress and IUML—also expressed their support to the government on the matter. Later, after going for a voice vote, Speaker P Dhanapal said the resolution was “unanimously adopted.”

Earlier this month, Palaniswami had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to “keep in abeyance” the dam safety bill, recalling the state’s earlier objections to it. DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition, MK Stalin, had demanded that a resolution be adopted in the ongoing session of the Assembly on this matter.

Dam safety

The Bill seeks to constitute a national committee on dam safety which shall evolve safety policies and recommend necessary regulations. It 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.

In certain cases, such as dams of one state falling under the territory of another, the authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organisation, thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

The Bill also provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by the state governments. The provisions of the Bill also lay onus of dam safety on the owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

Published on June 26, 2018
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