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Send N-bill back to Parliament for reconsideration: Experts

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, September 02, 2010 | 8:39 PM

Updated on Thursday, September 02, 2010, PTI

New Delhi: An environmental health researchers' forum has requested President Pratibha Patil to send the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill back to Parliament and Union Cabinet for reconsideration, claiming that the legal design of the proposed legislation is "flawed".

"I solemnly and earnestly urge you to send the Bill back to Parliament and Union Cabinet for reconsideration," founder and convenor of Toxic Watch Alliance (TWA) Gopal Krishna said in a petition to the President.

"I submit that the legal design of the Bill is flawed as it favours nuclear suppliers and nuclear exporters but not the victims," he added.

Except for the appointment of Claims Commissioner and the constitution of a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission to adjudicate and award compensation for nuclear damage within a period of three months, there is no other feature in the Bill that will protect the interests of the "victims of disaster", Krishna claimed.

On behalf of TWA, Krishna had also filed a petition with NHRC recently and sought its intervention, alleging that drafters of the Bill had ignored recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on radiation protection.

In his petition to the President, he urged her to order an "open and transparent" review of how nuclear power installations, including uranium mines have been operating in the country before proceeding with new nuclear power plants.

"A White Paper on the current status of nuclear installations is a must for undertaking future operations," Krishna said.

He demanded setting up of a committee to study effects of nuclear damage in India "before rushing through the Bill."

"This Committee should consist not only of nuclear scientists and engineers, but also economists, agricultural scientists and public health experts," he said.

Krishna contended that many other countries have unlimited liability and capping the liability of the operator of the plant at a very small level of Rs 1, 500 crores here is "uncalled for".

"The total liability for each nuclear incident remains capped at 300 million SDR, that is, Rs 2122.40 crores or USD 455 million as per clause 6 (1). The amount is less than even the Bhopal settlement of USD 470 million, which has been acknowledged as grossly inadequate by the Government itself," he contended.

Such a cap on liability will also have an impact on the safety of nuclear installations in the country, he added.

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