By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, December 2 (ANI): Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Thursday asserted in the Rajya Sabha that the 'Dam Safety Bill-2019' will not encroach on the powers of the States, stating that "we (Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government) work in cooperative federalism".
Addressing the Upper House in his concluding statement for the passage of the Bill, Shekhawat said: "The Centre hasn't any intention of taking over the power of the States as well as encroaching any of their rights."
The Union Minister mentioned the point as it was the major concern of various Opposition parties.
Shekhawat said 90 per cent of India's dams are built on inter-state rivers.
He explained that when water is released by a state then the states downstream are affected due to this.
"There have been several efforts undertaken to ensure a national body on dams has been constituted since the last 40 years. The Centre is trying to ensure that the body is constituted to ensure dam safety," Shekhawat said.
The Bill proposes the constitution of the National Committee on Dam Safety and the National Dam Safety Authority. The National Committee on Dam Safety will form policies and recommend regulations to the National Dam Safety Authority.
The National Dam Safety Authority implements the policies advised to it. It will also constitute two state bodies -- State Committee on Dam Safety and State Dam Safety Authority -- if the legislation is passed. The state committees' functions are restricted at the state level and are akin to those of national committees. The Centre, can, however, amend the functions of these state committees through a notification, if and when it deems necessary.
The provisions of the Bill are proposed to be applied to all specified dams in the country which have a height of more than 15 metres, or between 10 metres to 15 metres.
The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on August 2, 2019.
Mentioning that 22 MPs took part in the debate on the Bill, Shekhawat said: "The people of the country have been waiting for the Bill for the last 40 years as it ensures the security of those residing in downstream states, and that the move is to create an environment of security by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government."
Rejecting claims of Opposition leaders that states were not approached before the Bill was moved, the Minister said that a Bill linked to dam safety was circulated to States in 2002 based on 1982 recommendations but only Bihar showed its positive approach then.
The Minister made it clear that the Centre neither has any intention to encroach the powers of state on the ownership of dams, its water, electricity or operation, it only made an amendment to give power to the Centre to keep a tab on the safety procedures.
"We work in Cooperative federalism," Shekhawat said.
The ruling party also highlighted that the Bill was first introduced by Congress in 2010. (ANI)