Settle N-mishap claims in 3 months: Par panel

The victims of a nuclear accident could receive compensation within three months if the government accepts the recommendations of a parliamentary panel on the nuclear liability bill.

Updated: Aug 18, 2010, 19:21 PM IST

New Delhi: The victims of a nuclear
accident could receive compensation within three months if the
government accepts the recommendations of a parliamentary
panel on the nuclear liability bill.

"We have recommended that in the event of an unfortunate
nuclear accident, the Claims Commissioner would be set up
within 15 days and compensation would be paid within three
months," T Subbirami Reddy, Chairman of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Science and Technology, told reporters
here.

Earlier, the Committee submitted to Parliament its report
on the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill
2010.

Reddy said in the event of a nuclear accident following a
natural disaster or a terror attack, the government would pay
the entire compensation exempting the operator.

The Committee, which held over two dozen meetings to
finalise its report, has also accepted the suggestion of some
experts on creating a nuclear liability fund by charging a
nominal amount in the unit energy cost.

Creation of such a fund would reduce the government
liability in the course of time, Reddy said.

He said it was proposed to charge four paise per unit of
electricity generated by a nuclear power plant as a
contribution to the fund.

Asked whether the move amounted to charging the customers
of nuclear power for paying compensation bills in the event of
an accident, Reddy replied in the negative.

He also had to face some tough questions on the reasoning
behind the increase in compensation cap to Rs 1500 crore in
the event of a nuclear accident.
Reddy fielded a volley of questions after he said he was
"unable to understand" the reason behind the Left parties`
demand to raise the cap on compensation to Rs 10,000 crore
from Rs 500 crore as mentioned in the Bill.

"First we had decided to raise the cap on compensation to
Rs 1,000 crore but later the BJP members suggested that it be
raised to Rs 1,500 crore. This was accepted unanimously," he
said.

On how the liability would be worked out in case of a
joint venture company involving a private sector firm as a
minority partner, Reddy merely said "as of now, they (private
players) are not coming for joint ventures".

He said as of now only state-run companies like National
Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Indian Oil Corporation
(IOC) have evinced interest in starting joint ventures with
the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

The Committee has suggested defining the nuclear plant
operator as a central government-run corporation or entity in
the Bill. It has asked the government to refer to the relevant
sections of the Atomic Energy Act for the definition.

However, the Act provides for private sector
participation in setting up a nuclear power plant as a
minority partner of the NPCIL.

PTI