Dam Safety Bill, 2018

Dam Safety Bill, 2018

The government introduced the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha.

• The government, on 12th December, introduced the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha which will enable the States and Union Territories to adopt uniform procedures to ensure safety of reservoirs.
Why the need of Dam Safety Bill arose: Till now, The Central Water Commission, through the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), Central Dam Safety Organization (CDSO) and State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSO) has been making constant endeavours in this direction, but these organizations do not have any statutory powers and are only advisory in nature.
Objectives of the Bill: To help develop uniform, countrywide procedures for ensuring the safety of dams by providing proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country.

Features of the Bill:
Institutional Framework: The Bill provides for the constitution of following bodies:
National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS): To evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA): It will be a regulatory body to implement the policy for dam safety in the country.

Some of its other key responsibilities are:

  • To maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organizations and the owners of dams for standardization of dam safety related data and practices;
  • To maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • To accord accreditations to the organizations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;
  • To eliminate potential causes for inter-state conflicts (in cases where dams of one State fall under the territory of another State).

State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS): It will be established by every State Government to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, etc.
State Dam Safety Organization (SDSO): It will be established by every State Government and its functions will be same as that of NDSO but at the state level.

Other Key Features of Bill:
Duties and Functions: The Bill lays down that all specified dams will fall under jurisdiction of the SDSO of the State in which the dam is situated.

  • For specified dams owned by CPSUs or where a dam is extended in two or more states or where a dam owned by one state is situated in other state, NDSA shall be
    construed as SDSO.

Emergency Action Plan and Disaster Management: Every owner in respect of each dam is required to Prepare Emergency Action Plan within 5 years; and for new dams, before the initial filling.

  • Establish hydro-meteorological network and inflow forecasting system;
  • Establish an emergency flood warning system;
  • Carry out risk assessment study at interval as specified. First such study within five years;

Comprehensive Dam Safety Evaluation: It has to be carried out by independent panel of expert at regular intervals specified by NCDS.
Safety Inspection & Data Collection: For each dam, owner has to establish within his O&M setup a ‘dam safety unit’.
Offences and Penalties: The Bill provides for punishment/penalty if the dam safety provisions are not followed with imprisonment upto 1 year, or/ and fine (2 years for loss of lives).

Status of Dams in India
• 5254 large dams are in operation in the country currently and another 447 are under construction. In addition to this, there are thousands of medium and small dams.
• Also, about 75 % of the large dams in India are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old.
• India has had 36 dam failures in the past causing widespread socio-economic problems.