New Delhi: Former Atomic Energy Commission
Chairman P K Iyengar today raised a red flag over certain
provisions of the nuclear liability bill, including keeping
civil courts off-limits in case of a nuclear accident.
Iyengar, who played a key role in India`s first nuclear
test in 1974, also favoured a significant enhancement in the
cap on compensation to the victims of the nuclear accident
from the Rs 500 crore suggested in the Bill.
He made the suggestions during his deposition before the
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology,
Environment and Forests which is examining the Civil Liability
for Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010.
The Committee has been granted another extension by the
Rajya Sabha Secretariat as it has sought more time for
gathering evidence on the Bill which triggered a storm while
being introduced in Parliament on May 7.
The Bill was referred to the Committee on May 12 and a
report was sought within two month. Earlier this month, the
term of the committee was extended till July 27.
Iyengar also objected clause 17 (b) which provides for a
nuclear operator to exercise a `right of recourse` against its
suppliers in the event that an accident is caused by gross
negligence on their part.
The nuclear scientist favoured more strengthening of the
clause to ensure proper channelling of liability on the
supplier of the nuclear equipment.
A member of the Committee termed Iyengar`s submission
before the panel as "mixed" -- favouring the Bill but with
The former AEC chairman hoped that the government would
effect the changes brought forth by various experts while
appearing before the Committee.
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on July
27. This would be followed by meetings from August 2-4.
Top officials from the Ministries of Home Affairs,
Health, Labour and Agriculture also appeared before the
Committee during it day-long sitting today.
The bill is a key piece of legislation required to
operationalise the civil nuclear cooperation pacts India has
signed with several countries, particularly the US.
Several parties have opposed the bill in its present form
contending that the Rs 500 crore cap on liability to be paid
by the operator of a nuclear plant was too little.