Voices Monday, June 09, 2014 - 05:30
Monalisa Das | June 9, 2014 | 2.04 pm IST There is no law in India that would ensure the safety of people who might be affected by a dam's activities, says an expert on dams and rivers. The possible deaths of 24 engineering students from Telangana who went missing after the Larji dam on the Beas River opened the sluice gates, has raised questions about the manner in which dams operate. In a telephonic interview with The News Minute, Coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) Himanshu Thakkar said that “every dam is a potential killer”. He says that operators of dams in India are not accountable and neither are they transparent. â€œThere is no accountable, transparent and participative dam operation mechanism,” Thakkar states. The facts of the Larji dam case suggest that the dam operators are to be held responsible, he adds. An expert on dams and rivers, Thakkar blames the incident on the absence of any comprehensive law that regulates the functioning of procedures that led to the June 8 incident. When the dam’s sluice gates were opened, the level of water suddenly rose, and the students were washed away by the rushing water. Inadequate laws Thakkar says that there are no laws to ensure the safety of people who may be affected by the activities of dams. This could be a reason why there is a dearth of statistics on such accidents. However, Thakkar says that several such instances have been recorded in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. However, definite numbers on such accidents are not available. He says that although the Dam Safety Bill was drafted by the government in 2010, it has still not seen the light of day. Although this bill seeks to institute safety norms, Thakkar argues that it only covers the structural safety of dams, and not the safety of people who might be affected by the dam’s activities.
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.