It will enable establishment of Council of Nuclear Safety

A Bill to establish a legal authority and regulatory bodies for nuclear radiation safety was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy, introducing the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011, said, the Bill was aimed at achieving the highest standards of nuclear safety based on scientific approach, operating experience and best practices followed by the nuclear industry.

According to the objectives of the Bill, it will ensure that the use of radiation/atomic energy in all applications is safe for the health of workers of such nuclear establishments, public and the environment. It will enable establishment of a Council of Nuclear Safety (CNS), under the Prime Minister's chairmanship, to oversee and review the policies relating to radiation/nuclear safety.

The Bill was introduced within a few days of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling the Parliament that the Indian nuclear establishments were safe vis-à-vis the Fukushima nuclear plant tragedy in Japan. All the steps had been taken by the government to ensure continued safety of such nuclear plants in India, he had said.

Regulatory bodies

The Bill provides for establishment of regulatory bodies for the purpose of national defence and security. It seeks to empower the CNS to constitute an appellate authority to enable the Central government or any person aggrieved by an order of the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority to file an appeal.

The authority will be headed by a Supreme Court Judge or the Chief Justice of a High Court and have two eminent nuclear/atomic scientists as members.

Once the Parliament approved the legislation, it will be mandatory for the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, constituted under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 , to notify, within 15 days, occurrence of any nuclear incident in India. If the Board is satisfied that the gravity of threat and a risk involved in a nuclear incident is insignificant, it shall not be required to notify such nuclear incident.

Immediately after issuing the notification the Board should give wide publicity to such nuclear incident.

As per the Bill, all offences under this Act are cognisable under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, but no action will be taken in respect of any person for any offence under the Act except on the basis of a written complaint made.

The law could also regulate the manufacture, custody, transport, transfer, sale, export, import, use or disposal of any radioactive substance.

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