Monday, November 29, 1999

Experts, NGO representatives want N-liability cap raised

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New Delhi, Jun 16 (PTI) Experts and NGO representatives today demanded that the nuclear liability bill be made more comprehensive, including by raising the Rs 500 crore cap on compensation to be paid by the operator of an atomic power plant in case of a mishap. Deposing before the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, which is examining the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill 2010, the experts questioned the low level of cap on liability to be paid by the plant operator. An expert also made a suggestion to levy a nominal cess on per unit of power produced by a nuclear plant which could lead to collection of sizeable amount over a period of time thus enabling the operator to pay compensation in case of a nuclear accident. Members of the committee favoured an in-depth discussion by summoning more experts and later taking up clause-by-clause examination of the bill before preparing a report for submission to Parliament. Virtually everybody who deposed today were of the opinion that the Rs 500 crore cap on operator''s liability was very low compared to international standards. Experts pointed out that the role of suppliers in providing compensation cannot be ignored as all major nuclear accidents in the past had occurred partly due to design flaws. They also wanted more clarity on whether the victims of a nuclear accident could claim damages against against only the operator or any other person whose negligence leads to an accident as Section 46, which deals with the issue, is found to be ambiguous in this regard. Another section wanted in-depth studies to be carried out by the government before bringing in the legislation. Industry body Assocham, in its submission to the Committee, had proposed to have a clause that makes Tier 1 suppliers of nuclear equipment legally liable to provide for compensation in the case of a nuclear incident. Tier-1 nuclear supplier may include anybody and everybody who supplies equipments, instruments, spare parts, contractual labour accounting for 5 per cent or above of the total project cost, it said. Among the experts who deposed were representatives of Greenpeace and Centre for Policy Research.

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