New Delhi: Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), demanded from the government in the Rajya Sabha today that the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 be sent to a parliamentary select committee, saying it needs scrutiny as it is “unconstitutional and encroaches upon the states’ rights”.
The bill seeks to provide for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for the prevention of dam failure-related disasters and to provide for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
It has been passed by the Lok Sabha.
After Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat moved the bill for the consideration of the House, DMK leader Tiruchi Siva moved an amendment to the bill to send it to the select committee.
Moving the amendment, Tiruchi Siva said, “India is a union of states. The unique feature of our democracy and the Constitution is that it works on federalism. The states have their own rights. Entry 17 of the states’ list provides for the states to make laws with regard to water supply, drainage, embankment etc.”
Noting that the bill takes away the rights of the states, the DMK leader said, “I urge that this bill has to be referred to a select committee.”
Participating in the debate, Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress said, “This bill is unconstitutional and needs to be sent to a select committee…someone can challenge the bill in the courts.”
Nadimul Haque of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) echoed similar views and said, “The bill needs scrutiny. The bill, in its current form, has many contentions clauses…. The current bill does not guarantee any power to the states. It seeks to snatch the powers of the states.”
It is an attempt to encroach upon the sovereignty of the states, Nadimul Haque said.
“We endorse the view of Tiruchi Siva for sending the bill to a select committee,” he added.
TKS Elangovan of the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) said, “The bill is a violation of Article 252. Powers of the states are being taken away by the Centre. The bill should be sent to a select committee.”
Supporting the bill, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member KJ Alphons said, “This bill is the ultimate tribute to federalism. Big dams are water bombs. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal state assemblies have already passed resolutions that the Centre should legislate a law (on dam safety).”