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Dam Safety Conference to be Inaugurated by Vice President in Jaipur Tomorrow,

The International Conference on Dam Safety at Jaipur, Rajasthan, promises to be a pivotal event in the pursuit of enhancing dam safety, reflecting India's commitment to protecting its vital water infrastructure while celebrating its rich history and culture.

Shivam Dwivedi
Vice President to Inaugurate International Conference on Dam Safety at Jaipur, Rajasthan on 14th September, 2023 (Photo Source: PIB)
Vice President to Inaugurate International Conference on Dam Safety at Jaipur, Rajasthan on 14th September, 2023 (Photo Source: PIB)

The Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation (DoWR, RD &GR), Ministry of Jal Shakti is all set to host the International Conference on Dam Safety (ICDS) at the Rajasthan International Centre (RIC) in Jaipur from September 14th to 15th, 2023.

This prestigious event will witness the convergence of leading experts and global leaders in the field, coming together to bolster efforts in enhancing dam safety. The Vice President of India, Jagdeep Dhankhar, will inaugurate the International Conference, which is themed "Safe & Secure Dams Ensure Nation’s Prosperity." Participants from across India and around fifteen countries are expected to contribute to this groundbreaking initiative dedicated to advancing dam safety and management.

India, home to over 6,000 dams, ranks third worldwide in terms of large dams. Approximately 80% of these dams have exceeded 25 years of age, with 234 surpassing the century mark. Ensuring the safety of these structures is of paramount importance. With this objective in mind, the conference aims to provide a vital platform for experts from India and beyond to engage in discussions on cutting-edge topics in dam safety and management.

Furthermore, the conference will spotlight the objectives of the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phase II and III, elucidating how these projects contribute to enhancing dam safety in India. Several informative sessions will facilitate discussions on knowledge, experience, technologies, innovations, and safety measures related to dams. ICDS 2023 marks the commencement of a series of Dam Safety Conferences planned under the DRIP Phase II & III.

A highlight of the inaugural session will be the launch of the Vinyl-Wrapped ‘Pani Ki Rail’, featuring two prominent trains, the Himsagar Express & the Kamakhya Express. These trains will serve as moving billboards, promoting the essential message of water conservation, river rejuvenation, and the significance of potable drinking water and improved sanitation.

This innovative initiative, led by the National Water Mission under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, in collaboration with the Ministry of Railways, is titled “Rails for Water.” It will showcase significant water conservation projects, reflecting the vision of the Prime Minister concerning community-driven water conservation and management. The primary aim is to disseminate the crucial message of water conservation to every corner of India, as these trains traverse extensive stretches of the nation, reaching millions of people and emphasizing the importance of valuing water as a finite and invaluable resource.

Following the inaugural session, the conference will delve into technical sessions focusing on the latest technologies and innovative approaches to dam safety. These sessions will encompass various aspects, including monitoring, inspection, and rehabilitation of dams. The second day will feature two technical sessions: one centered around dam health assessment, presenting the latest methods for evaluating the structural integrity of dams, and another highlighting the industrial applications of dam safety, showcasing the use of dams for hydropower, irrigation, and flood control. Alongside the conference, an exhibition will be organized at the venue to display products, charts, banners, and photographs showcasing the latest developments, technologies, and solutions in various areas of dam safety.

Dams represent significant symbols of modern India. They have played a multifaceted role in meeting the increasing demands for drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, flood protection, and more. From the historical Kallanai Dam, built in the 2nd century AD by King Karikala Chola, India has evolved to possess over 6,000 dams today, making it the third-largest country globally in terms of large dams. Ensuring their safety is a paramount concern.

In light of this rich history and under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Dam Safety Act (DSA) 2021 was enacted, further strengthening India's commitment to safeguarding its dams. This progressive legislation underscores the nation's dedication to dam surveillance, inspection, and maintenance, setting a benchmark for global dam safety standards.

The Act mandates the establishment of the National Committee on Dam Safety, National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) at the Central level, and the establishment of the State Committee on Dam Safety and State Dam Safety Organisation at the state level. Dam owners are now required to have dedicated Dam Safety Units, prepare Emergency Action Plans, and conduct Comprehensive Safety Evaluations at regular intervals. With provisions for two types of offenses related to dam safety and a strong emphasis on regular risk assessments, the Act reflects India's forward-thinking approach to ensuring the safety of its dams, many of which have stood for decades, if not centuries.

The responsibility of ensuring the safety of these dams primarily rests with a mix of state governments, Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs), and private agencies. To address these concerns, the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phase I, launched in 2012, paved the way for addressing dam safety concerns in India. Covering 223 dams across seven states with a budget of Rs. 2,100 crore, it led to significant safety enhancements.

Building upon its success, DRIP Phase II and III, funded by the World Bank and AIIB, continue efforts to improve dam safety. These phases focus on rehabilitating dam structures, enhancing instrumentation, and establishing dam safety institutions, reflecting India's commitment to safeguard its water infrastructure. The scheme aims to fully rehabilitate 736 dams in 19 states. The 10-year project is being implemented in two six-year phases, Phase-II and Phase- III, with a two-year overlap. The project costs Rs.10,211 crore, including Rs.7,000 crore from an external loan and Rs.3,211 crore from participating states and central agencies.

The conference is organized in collaboration with the Rajasthan Water Resources Department, the Central Water Commission, the National Dam Safety Authority, MNIT Jaipur, WAPCOS Ltd., the World Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. ICDS 2023 enjoys support from esteemed organizers, academics, DRIP implementing agencies, sponsors, and media partners.

Rajasthan, a captivating tourist destination with its rich heritage, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, will also play host to participants. Combining robust technical discussions with immersive cultural experiences, sightseeing tours are planned for September 16, 2023. These include a leopard safari and a visit to Bisalpur Dam. Additionally, cultural programs featuring classical music and dance forms from the region will be organized, accompanied by dinners on each day of the conference.

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