Science and Technology
Highlights of the Bill
- The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 fixes liability for nuclear damage and specifies procedures for compensating victims.
- The Bill fixes no-fault liability on operators and gives them a right of recourse against certain persons. It caps the liability of the operator at Rs 500 crore. For damage exceeding this amount, and up to 300 million SDR, the central government will be liable.
- All operators (except the central government) need to take insurance or provide financial security to cover their liability.
- For facilities owned by the government, the entire liability up to 300 million SDR will be borne by the government.
- The Bill specifies who can claim compensation and the authorities who will assess and award compensation for nuclear damage.
- Those not complying with the provisions of the Bill can be penalised.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The liability cap on the operator (a) may be inadequate to compensate victims in the event of a major nuclear disaster; (b) may block India’s access to an international pool of funds; (c) is low compared to some other countries.
- The cap on the operator’s liability is not required if all plants are owned by the government. It is not clear if the government intends to allow private operators to operate nuclear power plants.
- The extent of environmental damage and consequent economic loss will be notified by the government. This might create a conflict of interest in cases where the government is also the party liable to pay compensation.
- The right of recourse against the supplier provided in the Bill is not compliant with international agreements India may wish to sign.
- The time-limit of ten years for claiming compensation may be inadequate for those suffering from nuclear damage.
- Though the Bill allows operators and suppliers to be liable under other laws, it is not clear which other laws will be applicable. Different interpretations by courts may constrict or unduly expand the scope of such a provision.