Send N-bill back to Parliament for reconsideration: Experts

An environmental health researchers` forum has requested President Pratibha Patil to send the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill back to Parliament and Union Cabinet for reconsideration.

New Delhi: An environmental health
researchers` forum has requested President Pratibha Patil to
send the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill back to
Parliament and Union Cabinet for reconsideration, claiming
that the legal design of the proposed legislation is "flawed".

"I solemnly and earnestly urge you to send the Bill back
to Parliament and Union Cabinet for reconsideration," founder
and convenor of Toxic Watch Alliance (TWA) Gopal Krishna said
in a petition to the President.

"I submit that the legal design of the Bill is flawed as
it favours nuclear suppliers and nuclear exporters but not the
victims," he added.

Except for the appointment of Claims Commissioner and the
constitution of a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission to
adjudicate and award compensation for nuclear damage within a
period of three months, there is no other feature in the Bill
that will protect the interests of the "victims of disaster",
Krishna claimed.

On behalf of TWA, Krishna had also filed a petition
with NHRC recently and sought its intervention, alleging that
drafters of the Bill had ignored recommendations of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) on radiation
protection.

In his petition to the President, he urged her to order
an "open and transparent" review of how nuclear power
installations, including uranium mines have been operating in
the country before proceeding with new nuclear power plants.

"A White Paper on the current status of nuclear
installations is a must for undertaking future operations,"
Krishna said.

He demanded setting up of a committee to study effects of
nuclear damage in India "before rushing through the Bill."

"This Committee should consist not only of nuclear
scientists and engineers, but also economists, agricultural
scientists and public health experts," he said.

Krishna contended that many other countries have
unlimited liability and capping the liability of the operator
of the plant at a very small level of Rs 1, 500 crores here is
"uncalled for".

"The total liability for each nuclear incident remains
capped at 300 million SDR, that is, Rs 2122.40 crores or USD
455 million as per clause 6 (1). The amount is less than even
the Bhopal settlement of USD 470 million, which has been
acknowledged as grossly inadequate by the Government itself,"
he contended.

Such a cap on liability will also have an impact on the
safety of nuclear installations in the country, he added.

PTI

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