Groundwork done in Bangalore

The draft of the Bill – which was to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday but deferred – is based on a report given by S Rajagopal of the Bangalore-based National Institute of Advanced Studies and V B Coutinho of the Government Law College. The study was commissioned by the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences of the Department of Atomic Energy.

The Bill deals with the issue of compensation in the event of accidents in nuclear plants.
Deccan Herald has learnt that the two-member team was entrusted to do the study in 2000 in the wake of the second Pokhran nuclear tests which took place two years before that. The duo submitted the report in 2001.  Rajagopalan and Coutinho pointed out that the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) was silent about liability and compensation in case of nuclear accidents.

They said it was necessary that the Government of India should have a legal mechanism to clarify liabilities in case of nuclear accidents and join the international treaty regime for nuclear liability.

Soon after the report was submitted, India initiated the process of joining the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, which is the international regime for compensation payment in case of nuclear accidents.
The draft Bill, a copy of which is available with this paper, says:  “Indian nuclear industry has been developed within the context of a domestic framework established by the AEA, 1962.

“There is no provision in the said Act about the nuclear liability or compensation for nuclear damage due to nuclear accident or incident and no other law deals with nuclear liability for nuclear damage in the event of nuclear accident. It is therefore considered necessary to enact a legislation which provides for nuclear liability that might arise due to a nuclear incident and also on the necessity of joining an appropriate international liability regime”.

Charges rebutted
Rebutting the Opposition charge that the US was behind India framing the draft legislation, informed sources said the report coincided with the work on the Koodankulam nuclear power reactor, the first nuclear reactor India built after Tarapore in the 1960s.
“The draft Bill was the work of a decade and not out of pressure from any country,” sources insisted.

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