In a move that could spell further trouble for the government, a statutory motion on changing the rules of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act-2010 has been admitted in Rajya Sabha for this session. The motion has been moved by the CPM.
Most opposition parties insist that the law should have stringent supplier liability clauses. But, foreign suppliers feel the Indian liability law is not consistent with international nuclear liability regimes.
The amendments, being moved by CPMs Sitaram Yechury and K N Balagopal, pertain to Rule 24 of the bill. The first amendment pertains to omitting the words “or the value of the contract itself, whichever is less”.
The Left parties argue that Rule 24(1) will ensure that the compensation can’t exceed the maximum liability limit of R1,500 crore, no matter how high the contract value. If the contract value is lower, the right of recourse from the supplier will be capped at that figure. According to Yechury and Balagopal, this rule limits the operator from claiming a larger compensation from the suppliers.
The second amendment deals with claiming of liability from the suppliers in a time-bound manner. Suggested with regard to sub-rule 2, it states that the period to claim the liability should be extended to 30 years.
The rule currently states that the provision for right of recourse, referred to in sub-rule 24(1), should be for the duration of the initial licence issued under the Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, or the period for which the supplier has undertaken liability for patent or latent defects or sub-standard service under a contract' – whichever is longer. The initial licence period is five years.
But, the Left argues that the "either-or" provision is biased towards foreign suppliers, and suppliers can still be at fault for nuclear accidents occurring after the initial licence period.