'Centre took away state power': Opposition protests Dam Safety Bill in LS

Opposition members on Monday protested against introduction of a bill on dam safety in Lok Sabha, alleging that the Centre was appropriating powers of states.

Seeking to assure agitated members, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat -- who introduced the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 -- said the central government has not done anything to take away control from the states.

Congress members -- Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Tarun Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari -- as well as BJD leader B Mahtab, Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy and DMK's A Raja opposed the bill.

RSP leader N K Premachandran also voiced concerns over the proposed legislation.

Members said there was no legislative competence for the bill as they emphasised that water is a state subject.

Mahtab, who is from Odisha, said the Union was trying to appropriate powers of the states through the bill and urged the government to reconsider the legislation.

The basic concern is dam safety, he added.

MPs from Kerala -- Tharoor and Premachandran -- voiced concerns about the legislation. Flagging concerns about certain provisions, Tharoor said the bill does not define who are 'stakeholders'.

Chowdhury, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the bill was too focused on structural safety and not on operational safety as he called for a detailed discussion.

Roy wanted to know why the Centre was "interfering in the realm of states?".

Opposing the bill, he said it was clearly outside the purview of the central government.

Raja demanded that the bill be sent to a Parliamentary committee.

Responding to concerns expressed by members, Shekhawat said a common protocol for dam safety is required and that around 92 per cent of dams in the country have been constructed over inter-state rivers.



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