In what can be considered a success for the government of Tamil Nadu, the Union government has agreed to hold the Dam Safety Bill in abeyance following the state’s demands.
According to reports, Tamil Nadu’s Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and Minister for Electricity P Thangamani were in New Delhi on Monday to meet Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Later, the AIADMK party also met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to reiterate Tamil Nadu’s opposition to the passing of the Bill.
Tamil Nadu has been at the forefront, opposing the Dam Safety Bill since it affects the state’s rights on the dams owned, operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu but located in other states; the Mullaiperiyar dam in Kerala, for instance. The Dam Safety Bill provided for the establishment of a National Dam Safety Authority, which would act as a regulatory body to implement the policy and guidelines specified in the Bill. In addition to this, the Authority will also act as a State Dam Safety Organisation, which will aim to eliminate conflicts between the states involved in the location, ownership and maintenance of dams.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had also written to the Union government multiple times regarding the Bill and how it affects the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu and their livelihoods. On June 15, Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to hold the Bill in abeyance till a consensus is reached between Tamil Nadu and other states.
In his letter, he had reiterated that former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, during her term, had also conveyed the state’s objections to certain aspects of the Bill’s draft and those objections have not been considered.
On June 26, the Tamil Nadu government followed the letter up by passing a resolution in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly to vehemently oppose the Bill.
Following this, the Union government has now assured Tamil Nadu that the Bill will not be put up for discussion in the Parliament during this session and will be held in abeyance.