PAC: N-regulator responds to CAG report on its performance

India's nuclear regulator today gave a point-by-point response to CAG's audit report on its performance questioning its independence and asserted that it had even ordered shutdown of nuclear plants found wanting on issues related to safety.

Appearing before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman S S Bajaj circulated to members a 69-page response to its performance audit conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG).

The CAG had submitted the report on the performance audit to Parliament in August. Besides Bajaj, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R K Sinha and Principal Advisor with the Department of Atomic Energy Ravi Grover were among the officials who appeared before the PAC chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

On the CAG's recommendation on strengthening the process of regulatory inspections of nuclear facilities, the AERB said that "the existing system of inspections for nuclear facilities is already rigorous and adequate in line with the above (safety) documents.

"AERB is fully autonomous with regard to its regulatory decision making. AERB has not allowed its present legal status or organisational position, to hinder the discharge of the assigned responsibilities in an autonomous, professional and effective manner," the nuclear regulator said.

"... In extreme situations, AERB has even ordered shutdown of plants or suspension of activities in ongoing projects," he said. Sinha told the PAC that in order to improve the existing legal framework and for bringing in institutional separation concerning promotional and regulatory functions, the government has tabled the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill in Parliament.

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