One week before the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 is placed before the Parliament for ratification on July 15, lawyers, academicians and civil society representatives from across the state met in the city to raise objection on various clauses in the bill.
At a public consultation meeting on Wednesday, concerns over the Rs 500 crore cap on liability on the operator in case of an accident and the absence of criminal liability in the Bill were pointed out. The objections will be presented before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which is reviewing the Bill.
“Foreign operators want guaranteed safety from the Indian government. After the Bhopal judgment, civil liabilities relating to all disasters have opened up,” said Suresh Mane, head, law department, University of Mumbai. “But except for a minor chapter on offences, the Bill doesn’t look at criminal liability.”
Social scientist Vivek Monteiro placed the deficiencies in the Bill in the context of the proposed 10,000 megawatt Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Ratnagiri district, poised to be the single largest nuclear plant in a single location. “There is a close relationship between liability and safety. The possibility of an accident is far less than that of a terrorist attack,” said Monteiro. “But the operator is not liable to damage caused by natural disasters, civil disasters… terrorism.”
The consultation was organised by Human Rights Law Network, University of Mumbai and Greenpeace India. “Equipment supplier and operator must take combined and absolute liability,” said Neeraj Jain of the Konkan Vinashkar Prakalp Samiti.
Karuna Raina Nuclear and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace India, said: “It is crucial for the government to factor in unlimited liability. Also the risk should be calculated logically and the amount of money put as compensation should mirror it.”
After the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, the country has signed up to 10 agreements with foreign countries for power generation.