Dam Safety Bill, 2019 – UPSC GS2

Status: Rajya Sabha has passed the landmark Dam Safety Bill (2019) paving the way for the enactment of the Dam Safety Act in the country.
What is the need for the Dam Safety Bill?
  • India is the 3rd largest dam-owning nation in the world after China and USA.
  • There are around 5,700 large dams in the country, of which about 80% are already over 25 years old. Nearly 227 dams that are over 100 years old are still functional.
  • There have been instances of unwarranted dam failures and of poor maintenance issues.
  • Hence, the Dam Safety Bill has been brought by the Government.
What is the objective of the Dam Safety Bill,2019?
  • To provide for adequate surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all the large dams in the country to prevent dam failure related disasters.
  • To provide for an institutional mechanism at both Central and State levels to address structural and non-structural measures required for ensuring the safe functioning of dams.
What are the key provisions of the Bill?
  • National Committee on Dam Safety(NCDS): It will be constituted to help evolve uniform dam safety policies, protocols, and procedures
  • National Dam Safety Authority(NDSA): It will be a regulatory body for ensuring the nationwide implementation of dam safety policies and standards. 
  • State Committees on Dams: At the State level, the Bill prescribes for the constitution of State Committees on Dam Safety (SCDS) and State Dam Safety Organizations(SDSO). These bodies will be responsible for the surveillance, inspection and monitoring of the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.
  • Safety of Dams: The Bill provides for regular inspection and hazards classification of dams. It also provides for drawing up emergency action plans and comprehensive dam safety reviews by an independent panel of experts. There is provision for an emergency flood warning system to address the safety concerns of downstream inhabitants.
  • The obligation of Dam Owners: Dam owners are required to provide resources for timely repair and maintenance of the dam structure along with related machinery.
  • Penal Provisions: The Bill has penal provisions involving offences and penalties, for ensuring compliance with the provisions.
What is the significance of the Bill?
The bill looks at Dam Safety holistically and provides for not only structural aspects but also operational and maintenance efficacy through the prescription of strict Operation and Maintenance(O & M) protocols.

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