india flag image Government of India

Central Water Commission

(Serving the nation since 1945)

Central Dam Safety Organization (CDSO)

State Ministers of Irrigation in their First Conference held on 17-18 July 1975 at New Delhi discussed the question of dam safety and recommended that, in view of the increasing number of large dams in India, the Government of India may constitute Dam Safety Service which may be operated by the Central Water Commission in advisory capacity. Pursuant to the directives of the State Ministers’ Conference and realizing the importance of dam safety, a Dam Safety Organization was established in Central Water Commission in May 1979. The Dam Safety Organization in CWC has made efforts in creating awareness in the country and has succeeded to a large extent in convincing the States towards creation of Dam Safety Organisations/ cells in the states. Further, the Dam Safety Organization in CWC has compiled guidelines for Safety Inspection of Dams, Check Lists, Formats for Data Book and Periodical Inspection of Dams. Also various other dam safety literatures have been published & shared with all the States for guidance to their field engineers.

  • The objectives of Central DSO are to:
    • Assist in identifying causes of potential distress
    • Perform a coordinative and advisory role for the State Governments
    • Lay down guidelines, compile technical literature, organize trainings, etc. and
    • In general to take steps to create awareness in the states about dam safety.
  • However, in the present legal framework, the Central DSO has only advisory role. 


The Dam safety Organisation of CWC is discharging the duties of Central Dam Safety Organisation (CDSO) as secretariat of National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) and co-ordinates between various state dam safety organisations (SDSO) for ensuring better and uniform safety to dams of the country, However in the present legal format CDSO has more of catalytic and advisory role rather than regulatory instrument.


The CDSO have vide ranging functions and some of the important are mentioned as under 

  1. The CDSO organises and facilitates meetings of NCDS and provide plateform to visit and inspection of a large dam under distress or rehabilitated as suggested by the committee its meetings.
  2. The CDSO provides state-of-art technical and managerial assistance to dam owners and liaison with them for standardization of dam safety related data and practice.
  3. The CDSO along with dam owners examines a specified dam causing public safety concerns and advises the dam owners to further investigation and remedial measures.
  4. The CDSO lays down the qualifications and experience of dam engineers and independent composition of the dam safety panel for safety evaluation of a specified dam.
  5. The CDSO participates in investigation and quality assurance teams of dam rehabilitation and improvement and suggests the dam owners suitable measures time to time if required.
  6. The CDSO advises the dam owners about collection of hydrometeorological data in the vicinity of a specified dam so that a proper Emergency Action Plan (EAP) can be prepared.
  7. The CDSO lays down guidelines for design flood reviews of the existing dams and site specific seismic parameters studies. The EAPs are also reviewed with these revisions.
  8. The CDSO has prepared inspection guidelines, proforma and checklist for pre & post monsoon inspection of the large dams and circulated to dam owners for uniform attention to all dams. These inspection guidelines categorizes the dams under distress as, 
    • Category-I: Dams with major deficiency which may lead to dam failure.
    • Category-II: Dams with rectifiable deficiency needing immediate attention.
    • Category-III: Dams with minor or no deficiency.

  9. These guidelines, proforma and checklists are revised and updated as per suggestions and discussion in NCDS meetings.
  10. The CDSO maintains a data base of large dams under the name of National Register of Large Dams (NRLD) comprising of general information of the dams.
  11. The CDSO encourages SDSO to prepare maintenance manuals, standard data base and cataloguing of instruments of their dams along with maintaining the general layout drawings and modification during rehabilitations if any.
  12. The dam engineers are advised to catalogue dam failures along with thorough analysis of causes of dam failure. The analysis is also made available to other members of NCDS to understand the dam behaviour for better safety of future dams.
  13. The CDSO provides plateform to dam owners to settle safety issue and any apprehensions about an interstate dam or dam owned by an agency and SDSO.
  14. CDSO is regularly imparting trainings to the engineers of CWC as well as State Governments to enhance their knowledge and skills in the field of Dam Safety.