Centre notifies National Dam Safety Committee

Little over two months after Parliament passed the Dam Safety Act 2021, the Centre has notified the National Dam Safety Authority and also issued notification for its rules.

The Dam Safety Act 2021 passed by Parliament in December 2021 provides for surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of certain specified dams across the country with a provision of imprisonment up to two years, or a fine, or both, for an offence under it.

The Act applies to all dams with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres and 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions and includes dams built on both inter and intra state rivers.

In two separate notifications published late on Thursday night, the Ministry of Jal Shakti issued the National Dam Safety Authority (Functions and Powers) Rules, 2022 and the second notification constituted the National Committee on Dam Safety and said the Committee shall come into force from Friday, February 18, 2022.

The National Committee on Dam Safety will help in evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards while the National Dam Safety Authority will implement the policies and provide technical assistance to the state bodies.

Chairman, National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) shall be the head of the Authority and there shall be five Members to assist the Chairman, NDSA; each of whom shall be heading one of the following five wings with the assigned functions. These are policy & research; technical; regulation; disaster & resilience and administration & finance.

The headquarter of the Authority shall be in the National Capital Region of Delhi and the Authority may establish four regional offices at other places in India, north, south, west, and east & north-east India.

“In cases where a specified dam is owned by a Central Public Sector Undertaking or where a specified dam is extended over two or more states, or where the specified dam in one state is owned by another state, then the Authority shall be construed as the State Dam Safety Organisation,a the notification said.

Chairman of the Central Water Commission (an agency under the Ministry of Jal Shakti) will be the ex officio Chairperson of the National Committee on Dam Safety. The Chairman, National Dam Safety Authority will be an ex officio member along with 13 other members, including representatives of National Disaster Management Authority and India Meteorological Department. Member (Policy and Research), NDSA, would be the Secretary, the notification said.

Apart from these, a representative each of the state governments, divided in seven groups, would be nominated by the Central government as members, ex officio, on rotation basis.

The Committee shall be in force for three years and later re-constituted.

Ministry of Jal Shakti data as of June 2019 (a month ahead of the time when the Bill was presented in the Lok Sabha) shows that India has 5,745 large dams (includes dams under construction). Of these, 5,675 large dams are operated by states, 40 by central public sector undertakings, and five by private agencies. Over 75 per cent of these dams are more than 20 years old and about 220 dams are more than 100 years old. Most of these large dams are in Maharashtra (2,394), Madhya Pradesh (906), and Gujarat (632).




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