AIADMK, DMK, allies condemn Dam Safety Bill, says it’s against federal principles
The statement of DMK President and Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin on Friday that the Centre had used its brute majority in the Parliament to pass the Dam Safety Bill is considered as a new war front being opened in Tamil Nadu against the Union government’s policy.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M K Stalin condemned the BJP government at the Centre for the passage of the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday and said the Bill was against federalism and would snatch away the rights of States.
“It is highly condemnable that the Union government has adamantly passed the Dam Safety Bill which is against federalism and the right of States. The DMK has consistently opposed the Bill when it was in the Opposition and now when we are in power,” Mr. Stalin said in a statement.
The Central government had presented the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 as there are 5,200 large dams in the country while 450 dams are under construction.
Stalin openly stated that even the AIADMK had supported the demand made by DMK MP, TKS Elangovan, that the bill be sent to a select committee of the Parliament.
Stalin said, “The BJP government at the Centre did not adhere to the demand raised by the DMK leaders in the Parliament and ruthlessly passed the Bill without referring it to the select committee, which he termed as the murder of democracy.”
DMK MP, Tiruchi Siva, while speaking in the Parliament during the debate on the Dam Safety Bill, said that the Bill would infringe on the basic rights and powers vested with the State Government.
The DMK leader also said that the Bill was violative of Article 252-1 of the Constitution and that the protection of state powers itself has become a question mark in the country.
The statements of Stalin, and the DMK Parliamentarians, are clear indicators that the party would move politically in the state against the Central government over the Dam Safety Bill and it will get the support of all the political parties in the state, except maybe of the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu are opposed to the Bill as they allege that it contains clauses that violate the rights of the state, especially with respect to dams like Mullaperiyar, which is geographically located in Kerala but maintained and managed by Tamil Nadu.
It was AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, late Jayalalithaa, who had in 2016 raised concerns over the clause on the National Dam Safety Authority.
The Dam Safety Bill passed in both the Houses of Parliament will lead to the formation of a National Committee on Dam Safety with a three-year tenure. The committee will comprise the Chairman of the Central Water Commission, a maximum of 10 representatives from the Central government in the rank of joint secretary, a maximum of seven representatives from the state governments, and three experts.
MDMK MP Vaiko had also expressed his strong reservation against the Bill while speaking in the Parliament during the discussion on the Bill on Thursday.
He had said that the Dam Safety Bill will not protect the dams, but instead will lead to major disasters for which Tamil Nadu would suffer.
He said that states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka are throttling the neck of Tamil Nadu and that if the Dam Safety Bill is passed, Tamil Nadu would be the one state that would be affected in a bad way.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly had also passed a unanimous resolution during the tenure of the previous AIADMK government against the passing of the Dam Safety Bill, claiming that it would lead to unrest in the state.
With political parties like DMK and MDMK having grass-roots cadre strength coming out against the Dam Safety Bill, the situation can get out of hand in the days to come.
The DMK is buoyed by the fact that the main opposition, AIADMK, is also against the passage of the Bill and it was Jayalalithaa who had raised her concern against the Dam Safety Bill.
R Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think-tank based out of Madurai, said, “The Dam Safety Bill was passed in urgency in the Parliament without any proper consultation with the state governments. Tamil Nadu will face the brunt of this decision and as Vaiko rightly pointed out, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka are in their own ways throttling Tamil Nadu and the people of the state cannot sit idle if the government at the Centre passes a Bill without properly consulting the state governments.”
A senior leader of the AIADMK said, “If AIADMK had opposed the Bill, it was due to the fact that the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu were not taken care of. It was Jayalalithaa who had pointed out to the then commission that the Bill would be against the interests of the state, and we may even join hands with the DMK against this.”
[With Inputs from IANS]
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