Stunned by Fukushima and hit by unprecedented anti-nuclear protests in Jaitapur, the government on Tuesday announced a series of dramatic reforms in the country's nuclear review mechanism to rebuild public confidence in India's ambitious nuclear programme.
The key reforms announced included demands repeatedly made by critics of the country's nuclear establishment. The reforms were announced after the Prime Minister reviewed the nuclear programme and the crisis at Jaitapur on Tuesday.
The government will introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament to create an independent and autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India that will subsume
the current watchdog, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).The AERB reports to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which promotes nuclear energy. Critics have, for several years, argued that the AERB’s position creates a conflict of interest under which it cannot be expected to turn down proposals supported by the AEC.
Even government scientists, like Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore director P Balaram, have raised concerns about this potential conflict of interest. Most countries that rely heavily on nuclear power have independent atomic energy regulators.