Tamil Nadu asks Centre to pull out its Dam Safety Bill

The CM also recalled his previous communication in June, calling for consultation and consensus on the proposed legislation.

Chennai: Expressing serious concern over the Dam Safety Bill introduced in Parliament by the Centre, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Bill. TN’s earlier concerns have not been addressed by the Centre, he told the PM in a letter copies of which were released to the media here.

The CM also recalled his previous communication in June, calling for consultation and consensus on the proposed legislation. Also, the TN Assembly had 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.

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 CM said TN’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. This implied that the dam-owning state would have no rights over the safety and maintenance of the dam located in another state, he pointed out in his letter to PM.

“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 the 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. But this was not included in the Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 12, the CM said.

“Under the circumstances, I once again request you to kindly instruct the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to withdraw the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 introduced in the Lok Sabha,”he urged the PM.

Palaniswami also requested the PM 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.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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