Drawing attention to lacunae in the draft Dam Safety Bill, 2016, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa on Sunday said there is no pressing necessity for a central legislation on the issue as state governments have necessary expertise.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the text of which was released to the media, she also said: "Since the draft Bill covers an area which falls in large measure within the legislative competence of States, Government of India must desist from needless adventurism and not ride rough shod over the federal constitutional framework."The draft Dam Safety Bill, 2016 was circulatd by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation for the comments of the state governments.
Jayalalithaa pointed out the draft Bill does not specifically provide for dams and reservoirs which are owned, operated and maintained by a state, but located in another state by virtue of long standing inter-state agreements which have been upheld through Supreme Court judgments."There are established rights under pre-existing long term agreements which require that certain dams in a State are operated and maintained by another state."Tamil Nadu's Mullai Periyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvarippallam Dams are owned, operated and maintained by the government of Tamil Nadu by virtue of inter-state agreements, but are located in a neighbouring state," she pointed out.
She said the present draft law, by oversight or deliberate design, cannot and should not overturn such rights, which would affect a large number of farmers and households depending on the reservoirs for irrigation and drinking water supply.Jayalalithaa said the provision in the draft Dam Safety Bill, to authorise the Dam Safety Organisation of the state where the dam is located to inspect and investigate the specified dams and suggest remedial measures for repair and reconstruction, will be against the Supreme Court's verdict in the Mullaperiyar Dam.She said the apex court had categorically asserted the ownership of Tamil Nadu on Mullaperiyar Dam and entrusted its maintenance and upkeep to the state.