Civil nuclear bill should be about safety: NGO

IANS, April 12, 2010

The proposed civil nuclear liability bill, which will cap the compensation to be paid in case of disaster, should also have guidelines on safety precautions, said a consumer affairs NGO Monday.

In a press release, the secretary general of CUTS international, Pradeep S. Mehta noted that so far the debate over the bill, that has been criticised by several opposition parties, was only focused on a narrow theme of maximum liability.

There are many other important issues which have not been given due importance such as effective compliance with service standards, assessment of loss due to fatal or non-fatal accidents and most importantly the determination of the liability of operators, suppliers of inputs and raw material etc.,” he said.

Apprehending opposition, the government did not table the bill in the last session of parliament. The bill has a maximum limit of Rs.500 crore as compensation.

Later, government officials indicated that they were willing to be flexible in redrafting the bill.

Mehta said that the proposed independent regulatory body in the nuclear energy sector should play an “important role in fixing, monitoring, and maintaining safety standards, given the current lack of transparency in operation of nuclear power plants”.

He asserted that instead of the maximum limit, there should be a “minimum limit on compensation to be paid by investors if they fail to maintain safety standards which should be linked to the costs of such compliance”.

“This measure should be complemented by accurate assessment of losses and timely compensation so that cases like Bhopal gas tragedy are not repeated,” he added.

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