As the government gears up to debate the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill 2010 in the forthcoming session of the Parliament, it is actively considering enlarging the scope of liability under the Bill in case of a nuclear mishap.
Alongside, the government is also contemplating increasing the present Rs 500-crore cap on the liability stipulated in the Bill, to reflect prevailing international standards. In the US, the liability of the state in case of any damage or mishap from a nuclear installation is in excess of $10 billion.
A top government official holding inter-ministerial consultations on the Bill told Hindustan Times that in addition to the operators of nuclear plants — which at present is either the government or public sector undertakings — it is proposed to also include the technology and equipment suppliers of nuclear installations under the scope of nuclear liability that may arise in case of a nuclear accident.
"At present, the Bill envisages to put the entire onus (of any nuclear mishap) on the operator of the nuclear plant, whereas the operators would be relying on technology providers, equipment suppliers and consultants for execution of nuclear installation," the official said.
"We propose to align the liability provisions under the Bill with that of the international liability regime, which would bring all the responsible entities as liability partners with the operator."
He said any entity supplying defective material either — either in terms of design or in terms of premature failure of equipment, leading to catastrophic damage will then be liable to share the liability arising out of any accident in these installations.