Keep Dam Safety Bill in abeyance: TN Govt to PM

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Jun 2018 10:25:55




THE Tamil Nadu Government on Thursday urged the Centre to keep in abeyance its decision to enact a Dam Safety Bill, recalling it had earlier raised some objections and that it had not received any revised draft on the matter thereafter. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister K Palaniswami requested that the decision arrived at by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday to legislate the Act on the Dam Safety Bill, 2018, be kept in abeyance till all States were consulted and a consensus was evolved. He said late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had earlier raised objections to “certain clauses” of the draft Bill, 2016 “since they encroach upon powers of State governments and also rights conferred on the State by virtue of Inter-State Agreements on dams owned, operated and maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu but located in other State.” The State had earlier urged the Centre that the legislation should be re-examined and should not be “proceeded with in haste, without considering objections raised by Tamil Nadu threadbare.”

“The Government of India has not circulated any revised draft after 2016 and it is presumed that the Bill in its original form has been approved by the Union Cabinet.” “This Bill would have wide ramifications on dams operated and maintained by (a) State Government, especially those dams which are owned operated and maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu, but are located in the neighbouring State,” he said in an apparent reference to the Mullaperiar dam located in neighbouring Kerala.Mullaperiar dam located in Kerala’s Idukki district is owned and operated by Tamil Nadu and the two States are at loggerheads over it’s safety and storage level. The Supreme Court had in May 2014 held that the dam was safe, and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the storage level to 142 ft initially and to 152 ft later after completing strengthening efforts on the reservoir.

In his letter on Friday, Palaniswami said he considered “it appropriate that consensus of all the States be obtained before bringing forward such a legislation on dam safety.” “In the circumstances, I request you to kindly keep in abeyance the decision arrived at by the Government of India to legislate an Act on dam safety till such time all the States are consulted and consensus is evolved,” he said. The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday approved a proposal for enacting the Dam Safety Bill 2018, which will help States and Union Territories to adopt uniform safety procedures to ensure safety of reservoirs.