N-bill: Panel suggests tripling liability amount
In its report, the parliamentary panel recommended that the operators liability in case of an accident must be increased to Rs 1,500 crore (approximately $322 million).
Congress' T Subbarami Reddy, the chairman of the committee, informed that the report has recommended that the right to claim compensation should be increased from 10 years to 20 years.
The panel also suggests that the right to recourse against the supplier be made stringent. Mr Reddy added that the principle of no fault and strict liability of operator should be explicitly stated in the bill.
"The operator's liabilities should be increased from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,500 crore and the government may increase the liability of an operator but in no case can decrease it," Reddy said.
The main objective of the bill is to provide for a mechanism of prompt payment of compensation to the victims in case of a nuclear accident, he informed insisting that it was not devised so as to appease the United States.
Other recommendations and observations of the panel report are listed below:
- The report has categorically suggested that the bill applies only to nuclear installations owned and controlled by the central government or through any authority or corporation established by it or a government company as defined by the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
- The report seeks to clarify that there will be no private operator of a nuclear installation in India
- Expanding the definition of nuclear damage has been suggested so that it can include the immediate and long-term health impact on a person and loss of life and personal injury, as also including the word environment as defined by the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The maximum amount of liability for a nuclear accident should be 300 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) or such higher amount as may be notified by the central government from time to time
- The committee has recommended a modification in clause 17 of the bill so that the right of recourse against suppliers can be made more stringent
- The suggested modification reads, "The nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of latent or patent defect, supply of sub-standard material, defective equipment or services or from the gross negligence on the part of supplier of the material, equipment or services."
- The operator must secure his interests through appropriate provisions in the contract with the supplier
- Appointment of a Claims Commissioner and a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission to dispose off claims within three months