Tamil Nadu

T.N. reiterates opposition to Dam Safety Bill

Continuing to press for amendments in the Dam Safety Bill 2018, that has been introduced in the Lok Sabha, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, urging him to withdraw the Bill and not proceed further till Tamil Nadu’s genuine concerns were addressed.

In his letter to Mr. Modi, which was released to the media in Chennai, Mr. Palaniswami sought the Prime Minister’s urgent personal intervention regarding the Dam Safety Bill, 2018.

Despite the State’s opposition to the Bill, which was flagged with the PM and the eventual resolution passed by the State Assembly, the Bill has now been introduced in the Lower House without considering the views of the State governments concerned, the Chief Minister pointed out.

‘Will mount pressure’

The State government will mount serious pressure on the Centre on the Dam Safety Bill 2018 issue to protect the interest and rights of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Palaniswami said, speaking to presspersons at Veeraganur, near Salem, on Friday.

He said the Bill could potentially hit the State’s rights on control and maintenance of dams located in neighbouring States.

“The people have elected us in good faith and we will take all effective steps to protect the interests and rights of the State,” Mr. Palaniswami said.

Elaborating on two major concerns raised by Tamil Nadu over the Bill, Mr. Palaniswami, in the letter, said that one of the provisos under Section 23(1) of the Bill (that National Dam Safety Authority would be the State’s dam safety organization in case a dam in one State was owned by another State), implied that the dam-owning State would have no rights over the safety and maintenance of the dam located in another State.

‘Unconstitutional move’

Mullaiperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam dams are owned, operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu government by virtue of inter-State agreements, but are located in a neighbouring State, he pointed out in the letter, and added that a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had upheld the rights of Tamil Nadu over the Mullaiperiyar dam in its judgment in May 2014.

“Therefore, to deny Tamil Nadu the right to be the Dam Safety Authority with regard to these four dams and vesting the powers on the National Dam Safety Authority would tantamount to encroaching on the rights of Tamil Nadu, which is unconstitutional,” he said.

“It is also a violation of the federal principles enshrined in our Constitution,” the Chief Minister contended and further urged for a clause to ensure the Dam Safety Organisation of a State would have jurisdiction over such dams.

Tamil Nadu had suggested including a new sub-clause to enter forest and wildlife sanctuary areas for ensuring proper maintenance of the dams by the dam-owning States.

“This clause should be included in the Bill to ensure access for technical personnel to those dams which are located in forest areas and wildlife sanctuaries,” he said.

He pointed out that the suggestion had not been incorporated in the Bill introduced in the House.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 6:02:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-reiterates-opposition-to-dam-safety-bill/article25747289.ece

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