Needless debate on N-liability: Former AEC chiefs

Mired in controversy, the implementation rules of the nuclear liability law have found support from two former Atomic Energy Commission chairmen.

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

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

"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

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.


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