New Delhi: The Rs 500 crore cap in the event
of an accident, proposed in the controversial nuclear
liability bill, could be raised as part of government`s
efforts to address concerns of the opposition over the issue.
Indications to this effect were given by government
officials at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee
on Science and Technology and Environment yesterday.
Top officials of the Department of Atomic Energy and
Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Limited, made detailed
presentations to the Committee members on various aspects of
A round of "intense discussion" followed the
presentation, during which the members raised concerns over
the Rs 500 crore cap on compensation, which they found to be
"very low", particularly in the backdrop of the Bhopal gas
A section of the panel also wanted a clear mention in the
bill that private participation would not be allowed in the
nuclear power sector as "this could lead to more Andersons in
The reference was to Warren Anderson, the Chairman and
CEO of Union Carbide when the Bhopal Gas tragedy took place in
December 1984. Anderson left the country in its aftermath and
could not be tried in court.
Questions were also raised on the clauses that the
liability would cease to be on the operator of the nuclear
power plant in case on a terror attack or natural disaster. A
section of the members cited India`s "belligerent neighbours
like China and Pakistan" while highlighting this point.
Officials said a "very general discussion" took place
during yesterday`s meeting. "It was an appraisal exercise and
clause-by-clause discussions would take place on June 15-16,"
A large section of the members wanted the suppliers of
nuclear equipment to share the liability in case of a nuclear
Official sources said that it was the first meeting of
the standing committee on the issue and changes in the bill,
if any, would emerge only in the course of future meetings.
"It is a long drawn process. A few more meetings will take
place and the bill will evolve in these interactions.
Parliament is supreme and we will take care of the interests
of the country," an official said.
Officials explained to the members the reasoning for
specifying the "cap" of liability, arguing that it was
necessary for the operating company to take insurance cover.
The government has already expressed willingness to make
changes in the bill if the Committee suggests.