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Modi Government Approves New Scheme to Secure Indian Dams

The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Modi has approved Phase-II and Phase-III of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP), with the aim of rehabilitating 736 existing dams located across the country over the next 10 years at a cost of ₹10,000 crore.

Importance of Dam Safety

India is the third country in the world after USA and China to have the maximum number of dams, with over 5,334 big dams in operation and another 411 dams under construction. In addition, there are several thousand smaller dams.

These dams are vital for ensuring the water security of the Country. 80% of the existing dams in India are more than 25 years old, with some 100-year-old dams also functional that require serious maintenance, reinforcement and capacity building, given the fact that they were built using older technology.

Hence, it is essential to undertake proper maintenance of the dams to ensure their structural safety and improve their operational performance.

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Scheme Phase-II and Phase-III

Phase-II and Phase-III will run for 6 years each and undertake rehabilitation and capacity building of 736 dams in 19 states over the course of the next 10 years for the duration April, 2021 to March, 2031.

The scheme will be funded with financial assistance from the World Bank (WB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to the tune of ₹7,000 Crores out of the total ₹10,211 crores.

The objectives of Phase-II and Phase-III are:

  • To improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated in a sustainable manner.
  • To strengthen the dam safety institutional set-up in participating states as well as at central level
  • To explore the alternative incidental means at select dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams

Under the Scheme, 4% of the total amount of the project will be spent for building tourism-based activities, including water tourism, at the existing dams. This would give a boost to the local economy as well. The state-wise and owner-wise breakdown on the 736 dams being rehabilitated across India is provided Below:

Sl. No. State/ Agency No. Of Dams
1 Andhra Pradesh 31
2 Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) 2
3 Chhattisgarh 5
4 Central Water Commission 5
5 Damodar Valley Corporation 5
6 Goa 2
7 Gujarat 6
8 Jharkhand 35
9 Karnataka 41
10 Kerala 28
11 Madhya Pradesh 27
12 Maharashtra 167
13 Manipur 2
14 Meghalaya 6
15 Odisha 36
16 Punjab 12
17 Rajasthan 189
18 Tamilnadu 59
19 Telangana 29
20 Uttar Pradesh 39
21 Uttarakhand 6
22 West Bengal 9
Total 736

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Scheme Phase-I

In April 2012, the then Union Government had approved a 6 year Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with World Bank assistance at a cost of ₹2,100 Crore (US$M 437.5).

The project originally envisaged the rehabilitation and improvement of 223 dam projects in four states namely, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu. Later Karnataka, Uttarakhand (UJVNL) and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) also joined the DRIP, and then finally rehabilitation of 198 dam projects began along with partnering states.

The Modi Government in September of 2018, extended the scheme by 2 years with a higher allocation amounting to ₹3,466 Crores.

With the completion of Phase-I, Modi government has approved both Phase-II and Phase-III to ensure maximum safety and performance of the dams in India.

Dam Safety Act

The Union Government has also approved the Dam Safety Bill which envisages prevention and mitigation of dam failure related disasters through proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all dams in the country.

The Act provides for a robust legal and institutional framework under Central & State Governments for safety of dams such as:

  • Constitution of a ‘National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS)’ to evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.
  • Establishment of ‘National Dam Safety Authority’ (NDSA) as a regulatory body to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  • Constitution of ‘State Committee on Dam Safety’ by the State Governments to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the State and to ensure their safe functioning.

The Dam Safety Bill has already been passed in Lok Sabha in August of 2019. Phase-II and Phase-III of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) along with Dam Safety act will work in tandem to ensure highest order of safety and performance of Indian dams.