Bureaucrats, scientists move SC against n-plants

Members of civil society approached the Supreme Court seeking its direction to stay construction of all proposed nuclear power plants.

New Delhi: Members of civil society,
including former bureaucrats, scientists, a former Navy Chief
and NGOs, on Friday approached the Supreme Court seeking its
direction to stay construction of all proposed nuclear power
They have filed a joint PIL pleading that the Civil
Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, be declared as
unconstitutional and appoint an expert independent body to
conduct a thorough safety reassessment of all existing and
proposed nuclear facilities in the country.

"Issue an appropriate writ canceling clearances given to
proposed nuclear power plants and staying all proposed nuclear
power plants till requisite safety assessment studies,
thorough comparative cost-benefit analysis and meaningful
public hearings are carried out by or under the supervision of
an independent expert body," the petition said.
The petitioners, who include former Cabinet Secretary
T S R Subramanian, former Chief of Naval Staff L Ramdas,
former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, former
Secretary to the Prime Minister K R Venugopal and nuclear
scientist P M Bhargava, pleaded an expert nuclear regulator
independent of the government be set up to do a comparative
cost-benefit analysis vis-?-vis other sources of energy.

They submitted the apex court should rule that in the
case of a nuclear accident, all nuclear operators and
suppliers, would be jointly and severally and absolutely
liable for civil damages and their financial liability would
be unlimited.

They have also pleaded the court to quash all the
agreements signed between the government and private
companies, for supply of nuclear reactors and equipment, based
on private negotiations, without any competitive process and
safety evaluation.

"The government’s plans for expansion of nuclear power
programme and construction of newer and huge nuclear power
plants without undertaking a thorough safety and comparative
cost-benefit analysis, clearly made under the influence of
foreign countries and multi-billion dollar nuclear industry,
shows arbitrary decision-making, based on extraneous
considerations and non-application of mind," the petition

"The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, by
capping the financial liability of operators and by making
suppliers not liable violates the polluter-pays principle and
the absolute liability principle which have become recognized
as part of the law of the land and puts to grave and imminent
risk the right to safety, health, clean environment and life
of the people," the petition said.

It pointed out that Nuclear Power Corporation of India
Ltd is planning to construct 36 imported reactors by 2032.

Four 700 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors, two at
Rawatbhata in Rajasthan and two at Kakrapur in Gujarat are
under construction. Two reactors in Koodankulam district of
Tamil Nadu and two reactors in Haripur district of West Bengal
are under construction based on Russian design.

The plant in Koodankulam has met with stiff resistance
from people in the area.


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