The Parliamentary panel examining the controversial nuclear liability bill is expected to finalise its report in time for introduction of the draft legislation during the monsoon session beginning July 26. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment on Forests is examining the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 that was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 7 amid stiff resistance from a united Opposition.
The Committee grilled V K Bhasin, Secretary, Legislative Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice over various concerns on the Bill, particularly those relating to appeal in higher courts regarding inadequate compensation. There has been an impression that the Bill does not provide for appeal by victims in a court of law and the award of compensation by the Claims Commissioner would be final. Bhasin is understood to have told the panel that there was a provision for appeal in higher courts. However, the panel favoured a clearer mention on the provision in the Bill.
Yesterday, Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma and Additional Secretary in the Environment Ministry J M Mauskar appeared before the Committee. The Bill provides for maximum liability of Rs 500 crore on the part of the operator in case of a nuclear accident. Several parties have opposed the Bill in its present form contending that the Rs 500 crore cap on liability to be paid by the operator of a nuclear plant was too little. They have also sought amendments in the Bill to make foreign suppliers of nuclear plant components more accountable in the event of a nuclear mishap. The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to be held on July 21-22 followed by another meeting on July 24.