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Par panel may suggest raising nuclear liability cap

After a series of meetings, the Parliamentary panel examining the nuclear liability bill is of the view that the Rs 500 crore cap on compensation in case of an accident.

New Delhi: After a series of meetings, the
Parliamentary panel examining the nuclear liability bill is of
the view that the Rs 500 crore cap on compensation in case of
an accident needs to be enhanced substantially and this is
expected to be among its key recommendations on the issue.

The panel is also understood to have opined that
liability has to be "pinned down" on the suppliers of the
equipment for a nuclear power plant in case of an accident.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and
Technology, Environment on Forests, chaired by T Subbirami
Reddy, is examining the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage
Bill, 2010 that was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 7 amid
stiff resistance from a united Opposition.

The Committee is also likely to suggest modification of
Clause 35 of the Bill that seeks to exclude the jurisdiction
of civil courts on matters being adjudicated by the Claim

A view expressed by a large section of members on
limiting the purview of Bill to state-run nuclear plant
operators like Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Bhartiya
Nabhakiya Vidyut Nigam is also expected to be reflected in the

"This bill should not hold good in case private sector is
an operator. Such an eventuality could be covered under a
separate legislation," a member of the Committee said.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat today announced
extension of the term of the Committee till July 27. The Bill
was referred to the Committee on May 12 which was asked to
submit a report within two months.

The Committee heard the views of the trade unions like
the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and some outfits active in the
nuclear sector at its meeting yesterday.

The Committee also talked to V K Bhasin, Secretary,
Legislative Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice over
various concerns on the bill, particularly those relating to
appeal in higher courts regarding inadequate compensation.

There has been an impression that the bill does not
provide for appeal by victims in a court of law and the award
of compensation by the Claims Commissioner would be final.

Bhasin is understood to have told the panel that there
was a provision for appeal in higher courts. However, the
panel favoured a clearer mention on the provision in the bill.

Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma and Additional
Secretary in the Environment Ministry J M Mauskar also
appeared before the Committee on Tuesday.

The bill provides for maximum liability of Rs 500 crore
on the part of the operator in case of a nuclear accident.

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.

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to be held
on July 21-22 followed by another meeting on July 24.


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