Statutory Bodies: Things to note on National Dam Safety Authority for UPSC Prelims & Mains Examinations

According to a gazette notification issued by the Jal Shakti Ministry, Central government established National Dam Safety Authority and it has come into force from February 18th 2022.

About National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA)

It is constituted under the Dam Safety Act, passed by Parliament on December 8, 2021. It seeks to maintain standards related to dam safety, prevent dam-related disasters and resolve inter-State issues in this regard.

Need

  • Issues related to the safety of dams or their operations have often been flashpoints between States. A case in point is the ongoing dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam. A national authority is needed to resolve such disputes.
  • According to National Register of Large Dams, there are 5,264 completed large dams, while 437 were under construction. A national authority is required to regulate them.

Structure

  • The Authority will be headed by an officer not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, to be appointed by the central government.
  • The chairman is assisted by five members to lead its five wings — policy and research, technical, regulation, disaster and resilience and administration and finance.
  • The Authority will have its headquarters in the National Capital Region (NCR) and will be supported by four regional offices.
  • Qualifications and functions of the officers of NDSA are notified by central government.
  • There will also be State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs), at state level.
  • Any decision taken by the NDSA shall be binding upon all the parties.

Functions

  • It acts as a regulatory body for ensuring the nationwide implementation of dam safety standards and policies of the National Committee on Dam Safety.
  • It will liaise with State-level dam safety organizations and owners of dams for standardizing safety-related data and practices.
  • Another function is to resolve disputes between State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs), or between a SDSO and any owner of a specified dam in that state.
  • The NDSA will also provide accreditation to agencies working on construction, design and alteration of dams.

Issues

The functions of NDSA are provided in Schedules to the bill, which can be amended through notification. The issue is that the core functions of NDSA can be changed by the government through notification without prior amendment of the Act by Parliament.