Daily News Analysis


16th June, 2022 Polity and Governance

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Context - The Union Government has organized National Workshop on Dam Safety Act, 2021.



  • Central Water Commission under the Ministry of Jal Shakti has organized a National Workshop on Dam Safety Act, 2021 in New Delhi.
  • The objective of the workshop is to sensitize all stakeholders about the Dam Safety Act of 2021 and to promote dam safety governance in the country.
  • There are more than 5200 existing large dams in India, and more than 450 large dams are under construction.
    • Maharashtra has the highest number of dams.
    • Madhya Pradesh at 2nd and Gujarat at 3rd place.
  • In India, dams store about 300 billion cubic meters of water annually.
  • Indian dams are ageing;
    • More than 80% of dams exceed 25 years of age.
    • More than 227 dams exceed 100 years of age.


Dam Safety Act, 2021

  • The Dam Safety Act was enacted by Parliament in 2021.
  • The main objective of the act is to provide a mechanism for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country.
  • The Act constitutes 2 National bodies:
    • The National Committee on Dam Safety.
    • National Dam Safety Authority.
  • It also constitutes 2 State bodies:
    • State Committee on Dam Safety.
    • State Dam Safety Organization.
    • These state-level bodies are responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring of the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.
  • The functions of the National Committee on Dam Safety;
    • Developing policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards in India.
  • The function of the National Dam Safety Authority;
    • To implement the policies of the National Committee on Dam Safety.
    • To provide technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs).
    • Resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between an SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
  • An offence can lead to imprisonment of up to 2 years, a fine, or both.
  • The Act applies to all specified dams built on both inter and intra-state rivers.
  • Dam owners will be liable for the safe construction, operation, maintenance and supervision of a dam. They need to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
  • The Dam safety unit will inspect the dams:
    • Before and after the monsoon season.
    • During and after every earthquake, flood, calamity, or any sign of distress.
    • They will prepare an emergency action plan.
    • They will conduct risk assessment studies at regular intervals.
    • They will prepare a comprehensive dam safety evaluation.


Significance of Dams

  • Dams act as an artificial barrier to rivers.
  • They are used to store river water and help in irrigation, power generation, flood moderation, and water supply.
  • Dams higher than 15 m or between 10 m and 15 m in height and fulfil certain conditions are called large dams.
    • They are mainly operated by states; a few of them are under central public sector undertakings and private agencies.
  • As a large amount of river water is stored behind a dam, and its failure can cause large-scale damage to life and property. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the safety of the dam safety is essential.


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