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RS passes Dam Safety Bill; Opposition calls for scrutiny by Select Committee

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 02, 2021
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The proposed authority will discharge functions to prevent dam failure and maintain standards of dam safety, evolve policies and recommend necessary regulations

Rajya Sabha passed the Dam Safety Bill, providing for the constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety, on Thursday despite the Opposition terming it ‘anti-federal’ and demanding that it be sent to a Select Committee for further scrutiny. The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill earlier in 2019.

The proposed authority will discharge functions to prevent dam failure and maintain standards of dam safety, evolve policies and recommend necessary regulations, according to Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who piloted the Bill in Parliament.

He said in the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill that the Authority will function as a regulatory body to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for proper surveillance, inspection and maintenance of specified dams and address unresolved points of issues 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, and in certain cases, such as dams extending in two or more States or dams of one State falling under the territories of another State.

‘Send to Select Committee’

The Opposition parties said the Bill is unconstitutional and encroaches upon the rights of States.

Moving an amendment that the Bill must be sent to a Select Committee, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said “ This bill provides for the constitution of a national committee for dam safety as well as an authority.... The control (of these) comes under the Centre and the appointment of the State representatives and experts also comes under the Centre,” he said and urged the House to refer the Bill to a select committee.”

Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil said the Bill is unconstitutional and needs to be sent to a select committee and added that the legislation will not stand legal scrutiny. “This Bill does not come under your jurisdiction. It is under the States’ jurisdiction. The provisions of this Bill encroach upon the rights of the States,” Gohil said.

AIADMK objects

BJP’s ally AIADMK also opposed the Bill. A Navaneethakrishnan of the AIADMK said the Bill is “inherently defective” and it has “contradictory, impermissible, arbitrary and unfair” clauses.

Published on December 02, 2021

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