Provisions of the Bill are proposed to be applied to all dams which have a height of more than 15 metres or between 10 metres and 15 metres.
Hyderabad: Despite apprehensions that the Centre was appropriating their powers over water and dam management in the guise of dam safety, the TRS supported the Dam Safety Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha.
Irrigation experts said the Bill would cover several interstate projects including Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar, Pulichintala, and Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme and the Tungabhadra as also new projects including Kaleshwaram, Medigadda and others on the Penganga river.
The provisions of the Bill are proposed to be applied to all dams which have a height of more than 15 metres or between 10 metres and 15 metres. Responding to the debate on the Bill, Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the Centre had no intention of taking over the powers of the state. Water is a state subject. He said states had been consulted on the Bill in 2016.
Mr Shyam Prasad Reddy, retired chief engineer of the irrigation department, said that he welcomed the Bill as far as the RDS was concerned. But he had reservations on whether the Centre would only provide financial assistance or would also seek control of the dams.
The Bill provides for the setting up of the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), with state representatives and specialists, for the purpose of maintaining standards of dam safety and prevention of dam failure-related disasters, evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.
The Bill proposes to constitute the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) which is a regulatory body to implement the NCDS’ policies and guidelines, resolve issues between states and others and maintain a national data base on dams.
Mr V. Prakash Rao, chai-rman, Telangana Water Resources Development Corp, explained that the Bill gives the Centre the powers of appointment of the committee and maintaining the dams which includes regulating the release of water.
He said the Bill empowered the Centre to have complete control over the top oversight and regulatory mechanism. The NDSC would be headed by the chairman of the Central Water Commission and the NDSA by an officer of the additional secretary rank in the Centre which will hamper the independence of the state government on the water resources.
He pointed out that the Centre in its proposed water management Bill contemplated a provision which empowered the Centre to divert the water to distressed areas without consent from the state governments.