UPSC MAINS 2019: Dam Safety Bill, 2018

Dam Safety Bill 2018

Topic: Dam Safety Bill, 2018

Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Indian Geography

 

Dam Safety Bill 2018

Highlights:

  • The Bill, which incorporates recommendations made by a Standing Committee of Parliament, will be introduced in the House soon.
  • The Bill seeks to establish a national regulatory body for dam safety and create a database of the existing dams.
  • The Dam Safety Bill will help states and Union Territories to make “uniform dam safety procedures” to ensure safety of dams, and help safeguard human life, livestock and property.
  • India has more than 5,200 large dams and another 450 are under construction.
  • The Bill “lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts,” the government said in a statement.

 

Dam Safety Bill, 2018: 

 

Background:

  • There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
  • The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

 

Benefits:

  • It will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  • The draft Bill has been finalised after wide consultation with leading Indian experts and international experts.

 

Details:

  • The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
  • The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
  • The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  • The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 

Key Provisions:

  • Dam Safety Bill 2018 will empower the dam safety institutional set-ups in both the Centre and States
  • It will help in standardizing and improving dam safety practices across the country.
  • It will address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.
  • The bill will constitute National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA), and State Dam Safety Organization (SDSO) with well defied duties and functions.
  • The Bill provides for comprehensive safety evaluation (CSE) by independent panel of expert. First CSE within 5 years, and thereafter at regular intervals specified by NCDS.
  • Comprehensive Safety Evaluation would be compulsory in case of major modification to structure or design criteria; discovery of unusual condition at dam or reservoir rim; an extreme hydrological or seismic event.
  • The Bill provides for punishment / penalty if the dam safety provisions are not followed

 

Offences and penalties:

  • The Bill provides for punishment / penalty if the dam safety provisions are not followed
  • If a person obstructs any officer/employee or refuses to comply with any direction of the Central/ State Govt or NCDS/ NDSA/ SCDS/ SDSO, the action would be punishable with imprisonment upto 1 year, or/ and fine (2 years for loss of lives)
  • If offence by any department of the Govt, the head of the department deemed to be guilty if offence committed with his knowledge.
  • If offence by a company/body corporate, every person in charge of/responsible for conduct of business of company, deemed to be guilty.
  • No cognizance of offence except on a complaint by Central/ State Govt or NCDS/NDSA/SCDS/SDSO.

 

Safety inspection and data collection:

  • For each dam, owner has to establish within his O&M setup a ‘dam safety unit’.
  • Dam owner to undertake, through dam safety unit, pre-monsoon & post-monsoon inspections of dam.
  • Special inspections during & after floods, after earthquake, on sign of distress/ unusual behaviour.
  • Engineers, as agreed by SDSO, to be stationed at dam site throughout monsoon period, and during period of emergency following earth-quake/ hazard.
  • For each dam, owner to have a minimum number of dam instrumentations installed; maintain record of readings; and forward analysis to SDSO.
  • Hydro-meteorological station at each dam site.
  • Seismological station for dams higher than 30m or falling in zone III or above.

 

 

State Dam Safety Organization (SDSO)

  • The Bill provides that every state having specified number of dams will establish a State Dam Safety Organization which will be manned by officials with sufficient experience in the field of dam safety.
  • 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.

 

For all dams under their jurisdiction, the State Dam Safety Organizations will be required to

  • Keep perpetual surveillance
  • Carry out inspections; and
  • Monitor the operation and maintenance.
  • Make such investigations & gather such data as may be required.
  • Classify each dam as per vulnerability and hazard classification criteria laid down by NCDS.
  • Maintain a Log Book/ Data-base recording activities of surveillance/ inspection and important events.
  • Maintain records of major dam incidents.
  • Render its advice to the concerned dam owner on the safety or remedial measures.

 

National Dam Safety Authority:

  • It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices;
  • It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organizations
  • It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances;
  • It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;
  • It will also look into unresolved points of issue 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, for proper solution;
  • Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

 

Sample Question:

“Dam safety is the responsibility of dam owners which are mostly state governments, central and state generating PSUs, municipalities and private companies” critically examine the statement in the light of recent Dam Safety Bill, 2018.