The Centre recently suggested to the Supreme Court to let the Mullaperiyar dam supervisory committee continue for a year, by which time the National Dam Safety Authority under the new Dam Safety Act will become fully functional.
During the period of one year, when the National Dam Safety Authority becomes fully functional, the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar Dam may continue its functioning as per the existing mandate in regulating the operations of the Mullaperiyar dam.
The Centre suggested that the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala be made accountable in order to ensure that the decisions of the supervisory committee on the maintenance and safety of the dam are duly complied with by the two States.
To address the technical concerns of both the States, the Chief Secretaries of the States may be requested to nominate technical experts as members to participate in the meetings conducted by the supervisory committee.
This would ensure accountability of the decisions/ action taken.
Once the National Dam Safety Authority is fully functional, the functions of the supervisory committee would be taken over by the authority and the committee could be dissolved.
Dam Safety Act, 2021
The Dam Safety Act, 2021 deals with engineering, construction, operations, surveillance, maintenance and safety of dams in the country.
The essential elements of the Act are
National Committee on Dam Safety: an overarching National Committee on Dam Safety to be headed by the Chairman, Central Water Commission, to evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations for the purpose;
National Dam Safety Authority as the regulatory body to implement the policies, guidelines and standards evolved by the Committee.
State Committee on Dam Safety to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all dams in the state for their safe functioning
State Dam Safety Organisation to carry out routine inspections, classify dams as per vulnerability and hazard classification and maintain records.
National Dam Safety Authority:
The National Dam Safety Authority will be headed by an officer, not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, who will be appointed by the central government.
Implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety.
Resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs), or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
Specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams.
Providing accreditation to agencies working on construction, design, and alteration of dams.
The legislation also envisages the formation of State Dam Safety Organizations and State Committees on Dam Safety.
Dam owners will be held responsible for construction, operation, maintenance and supervision of dams.