The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 was discussed and passed in Rajya Sabha. During the debate, several Members cautioned that the Bill encroaches upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams. Members argued that since water is a state subject, dam safety should fall under state jurisdiction instead of the Central government. In response, the Water Resources Minister quoted the opinion of the Solicitor-General that Parliament is within its rights to pass such a law.
It must be noted that under Article 252, Parliament can legislate on a state subject if two or more states pass a resolution requesting the legislature to make laws. The Act (after it receives the President’s Assent) will apply to those states which have adopted the resolution, and any other state which adopts a resolution afterwards. In 2007, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal Assemblies had moved a resolution requiring a law on dam safety.
Several Members of Rajya Sabha asked for the Bill to be referred to a Select Committee of the House. However, the motion was rejected with 80 Members opposing it and 26 Members in support. The Bill was then passed.
Separately, the central government clarified that it cannot decommission dams in the country since the matter falls within the purview of the states. Earlier in the day, several members raised their concerns about the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala during the Zero Hour.
Lok Sabha saw a debate on COVID-19. Members asked the government to clarify its stance on booster doses and how it plans to respond to the Omicron variant.
Note- The Minister was yet to respond to the discussion in Lok Sabha at the time of Uploading this note. Proceedings were ongoing.
Numbers to note
The Prime Minister’s Office informed Rajya Sabha that 8,72,243 posts are vacant in various departments of the Central Government as of March 2020. It added that in the last five years, the three major recruiting agencies (UPSC, SSC and RRC) recruited a total of 4,44,813 persons.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways informed Lok Sabha that there is an increase of 291% in the number of traffic challans after the implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019. During the period of 23 months before the implementation of the Act, the number of traffic challans was 1,96,58,897 and after its implementation, the traffic challans went up to 7,67,81,726.