Home / Home-page / Draft dam safety bill unacceptable, Jayalalithaa writes to Modi

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa on Sunday objected to aspects of the draft dam safety bill — proposed legislation relating to the control and management of India’s dams —for which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government is trying to get assent from the states.

A similar attempt by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had earlier failed.

In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa called the union government’s push to reorganize the way India runs its dams “needless adventurism" and said the bill is unacceptable to Tamil Nadu in its current form.

Jayalalitha has based her criticism on two factors--that the draft bill includes or excludes certain clauses that she says amount to overriding the federal nature of the Constitution and that it does not take into account her reservations against some clauses that were included in the earlier UPA government’s draft.

In the letter, a copy of which was released to the media on Sunday, Jayalalithaa has objected to the draft bill not recognizing dams and reservoirs run by long-standing inter-state agreements and the “overriding powers" to be given to the National Dam Safety Organisation to inspect any dams, among others.

Not duly recognizing the established rights under pre-existing long-term agreements for dams such as Mullai Periyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvarippallam is a grave omission, she said in the letter.

“The present draft law, by oversight or deliberate design, cannot and should not overturn such rights," she said.

Also, in the earlier version of the bill, states had the option of accepting or rejecting legislation after it was passed by parliament, which is missing in the present bill, she pointed out.

The letter concludes by saying that there is no pressing necessity for central legislation on the issue as state governments have the expertise for controlling and managing their dams. Hence, the letter adds, the central government must desist from “needless adventurism".

Sharan Poovanna from Bengaluru provided inputs to this story

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