The Dam Safety Act 2021 had met with stiff resistance from the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha who had objected to various provisions, including the setting up of the National Committee on Dam Safety, which will have only seven representatives from the states.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu had also opposed the Dam Safety Act stating that the rights of the state, which depends on the neighbouring states for its due share of water in inter-state rivers including Cauvery and Palar, will be deprived.

Taking the oppositon  further the  ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu has moved the Madras High Court challenging the Dam Safety Act 2021, stating that the Act would completely reduce the power of the states over the control of dams located within their territory.

The petition was moved in the Madras High Court on Tuesday by DMK MP from Myladuthurai, S. Ramalingam.

Senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP, P. Wilson, while appearing for the petitioner before the first bench of the Madras High Court represented by acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Adikesavalu, requested for an early hearing in the case given the importance of the subject.

Wilson, while moving the plea, said that the writ petition challenges the Act on various grounds, including the legislative competence of the Parliament to legislate the Act while the subject is in the state domain.

The advocate told the court that the Dam Safety Act will completely denude the control of the states over dams located inside and outside their territory.

The high court allowed the request and permitted to move the petition on January 10.

Dams in Tamilnadu – A brief Summary

Tamil Nadu has, however, spent only Rs 6,000 crore in 50 years for the construction of dams. People have been stressing for the construction of 40 check dams on Cauvery river alone as every year 90 tmc of the river water drains into the sea.

The State does not properly utilise the Cauvery, Mullaiperiyar and Palar water it gets from the neighbouring States. Recently, the State government has taken steps to construct a few check dams on the Cauvery and Palar.

dam built splco
Dams built by different governments in Tamilnadu


The dam was originally constructed during the reign of Chola king Karikalan in c. 100 BC – c. 100 AD.
It is the fourth oldest water diversion or water-regulator structures in the world and the oldest in India that is still in use.
The dam provides water for irrigating 400,000ha of land along the Delta Region. The structure measures 329m in length, 20m in width and 5.4m in height. Improvements were made to the dam in the 19th century by Arthur Cottons, a British general and irrigation engineer.Because of its spectacular architecture, it is one of the prime tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.

kallanai splco
Kallanai oldest dam in India but still in force

Storage: 94.4 tmcMain water source: CauveryOpened: 1934

Storage: 7.4 tmcMain water source: ThenpennaiOpened: 1958

Storage: 33.17 tmcMain water source: CauveryOpened: 1955

Storage: 3.86 tmcMain water source: West-bound riversOpened: 1962

Storage: 13.5 tmcMain water source: Chalakudy riverOpened: 1967

Storage: 5.1tmcMain water source: PAP projectOpened: 1971

Storage: 4.1 tmcMain water source: CauveryOpened: 1958

Storage: 5.5 tmcMain water source: ThamirabaraniOpened: 1942

Storage: 6.14 tmcMain water source: VaigaiOpened: 1959

Storage: 10.6 tmcMain water source: Periyar riverOpened: 1895

Storage: 5.53 tmcMain water source: ThamirabaraniOpened: 1958

Storage: 4.5 tmcMain water source: KodaiyarOpened: 1906