Dam safety bill 2019 GS- 3 INFRASTRUCTURE, SOCIAL SECTOR-  Today Current Affairs

Recently the landmark Dam safety bill (2019) was passed by the Rajya Sabha , which was earlier approved by the Lok sabha in August 2019 and hence clears the way for sanctioning of the Dam Safety Act in the country. India ranks 3rd globally after China & USA , as a dam- owning nation and accounts for 5,745 large dams. Out of these nearly 227 dams are over 100 years old but still operational. Aging of dams in the country has been a matter of concern and also the unwarranted dam failures and its poor maintenance issues calls for a specific Safety law.

The Dam Safety Bill provides for inspection, operation, surveillance, and maintenance of all the large dams in the country so as to prevent dam failure related disasters. Given that water is the state subject, the ownership 9f dams and their maintenance predominantly falls in the purview of the states. The Bill provides for an institutional mechanism at both Central and State level to address structural and non structural measures requisite for safe functioning of dams.

Provisions of Dam Safety Bill, 2019: The Hindu Analysis

  1. The Bill covers dams with height of over 15 meters and between 10 and 15 meters with certain stipulations.

  1. It has the provision for creation of two national institutions viz – 1. National committee on Dam Safety – it is to evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations. 2. National Dam Safety Authority- it is to implement policies and address unresolved issues between two states.

  1. The bill also envisions the formation of the State Dam Safety Organization and State Committees on Dam safety.

  1. Dam owners will be held responsible for construction, operation, maintenance and supervision of dams.

  1. The bill also addresses in a comprehensive manner critical concerns related to dam safety on account of emerging climate change.

  1. The bill provides for regular inspection and hazard classification of dams.

  1. The bill also provides for the drawing up of emergency action plans and comprehensive dam safety reviews by an independent panel of experts.

  2. There is also provision for an emergency flood warning system to address the safety concerns of downstream inhabitants.

Challenges entailed in the bill- Today Current Affairs

  1. Water being a State subject, the Dam Safety bill is alleged to encroach upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams , hence disturbing the federal principles and powers of the state governments. Thus since 2010 states like Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Odisha are opposed to the legislation. It is to be noted that in 2007 , Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal Assemblies empowered Parliament to come up with a legislation on dam safety under Article 252.

  2. The Dam Safety bill is also alleged to be unholistic, given its silence on the payment of compensation to people affected by dam projects. A proper rehabilitation scheme seems missing from the bill.

On the other hand , while framing the legislation the Centre declared that ” it is expedient in public interest that the union should take under its control the regulation of uniform dam safety procedure for specified dams”. Also the interstate basins cover 92% of the country’s area and majority of the dams, hence the centre is competent to enact such a law.


India always had the requirement of a specific central law that would govern and regulate the disasters associated with dam-ageing and dam outbursts with respect to the public interest. Rajya Sabha has passed the bill only after the deliberate scrutiny by the related committees. The only drawback was that the concerned states were not consulted on various aspects of dam safety. Lack of communication with states has made the bill contentious. Yet , the centre still has its way out by holding talks with the states to allay their fears and frame rules as per the constitution.


Here we mention all information about Dam safety bill 2019 GS- 3 INFRASTRUCTURE, SOCIAL SECTOR Today Current Affairs, The Hindu Analysis.

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