TN demands withdrawal of Dam Safety Bill

• The Tamil Nadu government Friday expressed concern over the dam safety bill introduced in Parliament by the Centre and demanded its withdrawal, saying it’s earlier concerns had not been addressed by the Centre.

• Chief Minister K Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recalling his previous communication in June, calling for consultation and consensus on the proposed legislation.

• The Tamil Nadu Assembly had also adopted a resolution demanding that the Dam Safety Bill, 2018, be kept in abeyance till a consensus was arrived at with all states, he said.

Points highlighted by CM of Tamil Nadu

• Tamil Nadu’s “serious concerns” have not at all been addressed by the union Government, he said, adding that the Bill has now been introduced in the Lok Sabha “without considering the views/comments of the state governments.”

• The state’s ‘main concern’ was a proviso under the Bill, which specifies that where a particular dam in one state is owned by another, then the National Dam Safety Authority would act as the State Dam Safety Organisation for that particular dam, the Chief Minister said.

• This implied that the dam owning state would have no rights over the safety and maintenance of the dam located in another state.

• “Tamil Nadu’s Mullaiperiyar,Parambikulam,Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam dams are owned, operated and maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu by virtue of Inter-state Agreements, but are located in a neighbouring state (Kerala),” he said.

• Palaniswami also recalled the May 2014 Supreme Court verdict, which “upheld the rights of Tamil Nadu” on the Mullaperiyar dam on increasing its height to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet upon completion of strengthening work.

• “Therefore, to deny Tamil Nadu the right to be the Dam Safety Authority with regard to these four dams and vesting the powers to the National Dam Safety Authority would be tantamount to encroaching on the rights of Tamil Nadu, which is unconstitutional. It is also a violation of the federal principles enshrined in our Constitution,” Palaniswami said and sought suitable amendments.

• He also recalled the state’s earlier suggestion to include a sub-clause in the bill to ensure access to the dams by technical personnel for those dams which are located in forest areas and wild life sanctuaries.

• This was not included in the bill tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 12, the Chief Minister said.

• Palaniswami also requested the Prime Minister to not proceed further with the process of legislation on Dam safety “till such time Tamil Nadu’s genuine concerns are addressed and a consensus evolved among all the states.

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prelims level: Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level: Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.

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