CHENNAI: The Central government is unlikely to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha for discussion during the ongoing winter session of Parliament. Tamil Nadu has been repeatedly raising reservations about certain provisions of the bill.
On Monday, a delegation comprising of Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, and four other senior ministers others called on Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Union Home Minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah handed over the copy of the letter written by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in this regard.
"The Central government is not bringing the bill for discussion during the winter session. We have pressed for sending it to the Select Committee of the Parliament or to bring the bill after incorporating the amendments sought by Tamil Nadu so that the fears of the State are allayed," an MP who was part of the delegation told Express.
In his letter, Palaniswami said since Tamil Nadu had adequate expertise and experience on dam safety and other related issues and as the Central Water Commission has been associated with dam safety aspects, there was no need for a new national authority for the four dams of Tamil Nadu located in Kerala.
Palaniswami said under Section 24(1) of the bill, the first proviso specified that where the specified dams in one State is owned by another State, then the National Dam Safety Authority would act as the State Dam Safety Organisation.
"This is unacceptable to Tamil Nadu, as it is against the interests of the State," he added.
"Mullaiperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam dams are owned, operated maintained by the Tamil Nadu, but located in Kerala State, by virtue of Inter-State Agreements and judgments of Supreme Court. As per this proviso, these four dams would come under the National Dam Safety Authority on dam safety aspects." Palaniswami pointed out.
In this connection, the chief minister urged the following two amendments be incorporated in the bill to safeguard the interests of Tamil Nadu -
(a) "Provided that where a specified dam is owned by a Central Public Sector Undertaking, the authority shall be construed as the Dam Safety Organisation for the purposes of this Act."
(b) "Provided further that the dams of Mullaiperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam which are owned, controlled, operated and mained by Tamil Nadu but located in another State, by virtue of Inter-State Agreements, the Dam Safety organisation/Committee shall be the State of Tamil Nadu."
Meanwhile, talking to reporters after the Tamil Nadu delegation met him, Jal Shakthi Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the Tamil Nadu government would continue to have full control on regular operations and maintenance of the Mullaiperiyar dam and the dam safety bill would not alter existing arrangements.