The standing committee on Science and Technology wants the consumers of nuclear power to pick up part of government's liability tab and also rooted for the victim's right to appeal in high court and Supreme Court against the compensation award.
The other recommendations include hiking the operator liability cap to R1500 crore, extension of the period of claim in the event of a nuclear accident from 10 years to 20 years, ensuring the plant operators are in government sector, expanding the scope of the compensation to include the immediate and long term health impact on a person as well as factoring in environmental aspects of a nuclear accident. Joining any international compensation convention is still an open-ended question.
Crucially, the panel saved the government from pushing the foreign suppliers hard on
compensation. Though it made such provisions wider and more transparent, it still remains an arrangement between the operator and the suppliers.
The report on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill 2010 was placed in parliament on Wednesday amidst non-BJP opposition parties alleging a deal between Congress and the principal opposition parties over the proposed legislation. While SP and RJD accused Congress of striking a deal with BJP for saving Narendra Modi in the Sohrabuddin case and in return getting the nuclear liability Bill passed in Parliament. The Left said that new amendments are aimed at exonerating the foreign suppliers from the liability.
"Congress and BJP are together on several issues… Today's media reports indicate that Modi has been given a clean chit by CBI in Sohrabuddin case," Lalu Prasad Yadav said in Lok Sabha.
The 31-member committee headed by T. Subbarami Reddy of Congress in the report, after 30 sittings and visiting two nuclear power plant sites, suggested for a nuclear liability fund to be set up.
"Some of the experts suggested that the nuclear operators could create a nuclear liability fund by charging a nominal amount in the unit energy cost in such a way that in course of time government liability is reduced," says the report.
Later Reddy explained by having a surcharge of 4 paise per unit on the power thus generated, government can create a separate pool of funds.
The committee also recommended that "victims shall have the right to appeal to the high court and Supreme Court if they are not satisfied with the award given by the Claims Commissioner or Nuclear
Damages Claims Commission."
"There are hundreds of suppliers to a nuclear plant. We want the victims to get the compensation fast, and the liability lies with the operator" Reddy explained at the press meet.