Needless debate on N-liability: Former AEC chiefs
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 24, 2011, 20:06
New Delhi: Mired in controversy, the implementation rules of the nuclear liability law have found support from two former Atomic Energy Commission chairmen who feel that the debate on them is "needless" and that they are the best available in the current circumstances.

Former AEC Chairmen M R Srinivasan and Anil Kakodkar were also of the view that the rules may affect Indian suppliers more than the foreign vendors.

"There is a needless debate that the liability regime in India is largely driven by American agenda. Right now, the problem is actually getting our own industry people to participate in the nuclear programme," Srinivasan said here today.

The liability regime has to be "workable" otherwise the domestic suppliers would find it difficult to participate in the nuclear programme, he said.

Kakodkar, a key player in the signing of the India-US civil nuclear agreement, said that he had earlier expressed displeasure over the nuclear liability law contending that the domestic nuclear industry will be hit hard in the long run.

He, however, said the nuclear liability measures have been debated enough and it was time the country moved on with them.

"This has been debated enough and we must call an end to it," he said yesterday when asked whether he was satisfied with the provisions of the rules.

"In these circumstances this is the best way," Kakodkar said of the rules which give operators the right to seek compensation from suppliers for a limited period of five years and not for the entire lifetime of a reactor.

Srinivasan said the government has to enusre that the liability conditions were such that would enable the suppliers to make reasonable offers for equipment.

"If the supplier has to cover interminable risk for a period of 50-60 years, clearly it will be a difficult proposition," he said.

Srinivasan said it was "clearly impractical" to claim 100 million dollars in damages from a company supplying a million dollar of components.

"We have to provide for a regime that defines either a product liability period or a initial licence period. It should limit the supplier liability either to the value of the component or the amount of compensation paid out at a given time, whichever is lower," he said.

Kakodkar maintained that safety issues have to be addressed at every stage of building of a nuclear plant.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has to grant its clearance to every aspect of the design of the nuclear plant before the construction moves on to the next stage, he said.

A benefit of the rules is that the suppliers will also ensure quality of the components they provide for nuclear power plants, he said.

The CPI(M) has demanded revision of the implementation rules of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act and have announced moving amendments in that regard in Parliament.

Assocham has said India will have the toughest liability regime and has hoped that national and international suppliers agree as rules have to imbibe the spirit of the Act.


First Published: Thursday, November 24, 2011, 20:06

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