'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.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel