NEW DELHI: A legislation to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of over 5,000 large dams in the country has got a push from the BJP- NDA Government, with the Union Ministry of Water Resources pursuing it on a priority basis. After vetting by the Law Ministry, it would come up before the Union Cabinet for its approval.
. The draft legislation drawn up by the Water Ministry calls for the Centre, state governments and dam owners to set up an institutional mechanism for ensuring dam safety and reporting the action taken.
There are provisions concerning periodical inspections, instrumentation and establishment of hydrological and seismological stations. It also addresses the issues of initial filling, emergency action plan and disaster management, besides having a comprehensive dam safety evaluation.
“The Dam Safety Bill will ensure accountability and rehabilitation in case of an accident. We don’t have any law on dam safety as earlier dams were controlled by government agencies. But the need was felt as private sector is increasingly coming into this field,” said a senior official in the Ministry of Water Resources. The official said that major parts of the draft legislation has been vetted by the Law Ministry but the ministry is yet to receive the final copy before it can be sent to the Cabinet. A similar Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by UPA-II in 2010 and was referred to Parliament Committee. It lapsed on the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha.