CPI(M) moves amendment to Rules on Nuclear Liability Act

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has tabled an amendment to the Rules for the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 on the ground that it negates the legislation passed by Parliament.

The Act that seeks to fix liability on the manufacturer of nuclear reactors in the event of an accident has been criticised by the United States. Last month the government notified the rules, which have been objected to by the Left parties as it “dilutes” the legislation.

“We have moved an amendment to the Rules both in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha ,” CPI(M) Rajya Sabha leader and his Lok Sabha counterpart Basudeb Acharia said here at a press conference.

Now it was for the Committee on Subordinate Legislation to take a view, they said, adding that in the absence of any objection, the Rules notified by the government would have been implemented after the mandatory wait period of 30 days in Parliament that ended on Thursday.

The Committee on Subordinate Legislation,headed by P. Karunakaran (CPI-M), was reconstituted days after Mr. Yechury charged that the panel was not being formed to help the government clear the Rules for the Bill without any objection.

CPI MP D. Raja expressed deep concern over the notification stating that Chapter V of the Rules “violates the sense of the Act that was passed by Parliament last year” and sought to know why the government wants the tax-payers' money to compensate in case of an accident.

“Section 17(b) of the Act allows the operator of a nuclear installation — currently the Government of India — a ‘right of recourse' in the event of an accident caused by a latent or patent defect in the material provided by the supplier. This right of recourse was not restricted in any way by the Act either in extent or in time. I am dismayed that the rules notified by the Government restrict the scope of this ‘right of recourse' in both these respects,” Mr. Raja said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said although Clause 24 of the Rules does not make a direct reference to Section 17(b) of the Act, it states that a contract signed by the operator and the supplier will include a provision for a right of recourse only for the “duration of [the]initial licence issued under the Atomic Energy Rules.”

Since this initial licence is issued only for five years, the government has effectively renounced its right to seek recourse against the supplier if an accident happens after this short period.

“This is particularly worrying since nuclear reactors face greater chances of an accident as they age. Not all the components inside a reactor can be examined and replaced, and so the probability of failure increases with time. Consequently, the right of recourse of the operator should extend for the lifetime of the reactor sold by the supplier,'' Mr. Raja said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 12:05:03 PM |

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