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Agriculture ministry plans to submit bill to Diet for more stringent management of reservoirs in farming areas

JIJI

The agriculture ministry plans to submit to the Diet a new bill for stricter management of reservoirs for farming, after heavy rain that hit western Japan last summer destroyed some ponds and caused damage, it was learned Saturday.

The ministry intends to submit the legislation to this year’s ordinary Diet session, likely to be convened later this month, informed sources said.

Some 96,000 reservoirs are registered in the ministry’s database. Actually, however, a total of about 200,000 reservoirs are believed to exist across the country.

During emergency examinations conducted following the heavy rain, local officials could not confirm the safety of some reservoirs. Other registered reservoirs were found to be in various states of disrepair.

The new law will clarify the roles of the central government, local governments and reservoir owners and managers, the sources said.

Specifically, the state will take charge of general coordination across a wide area, while prefectural governments would select reservoirs that could cause damage to houses and other facilities if they collapse, the sources said.

Municipal governments will be required to check management conditions for reservoirs and give necessary instructions to reservoir managers and to manage reservoirs whose owners and managers are unknown, according to the sources.

Owners and managers will be obliged to report basic information about their reservoirs to relevant local governments.

The ministry is also considering authorizing prefectural governors to order owners and managers to conduct disaster prevention work if necessary. Governors could also be allowed to conduct such work on behalf of owners and managers in case they do not follow the orders, according to the sources.