Our nuclear liability regime is unbalanced: G R Srinivasan

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 08, 2012 18:50 hrs

pIndia&rsquos civil nuclear liability regime has raised serious questions about the country&rsquos capacity addition programme In an interview with emSanjay Jogem strongG R Srinivasanstrong former vice-chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board AERB and currently principal associate-nuclear power business in GMR Energy Ltd says the regime is tremendously unbalanced and may adversely affect the nuclear capacity addition programmeppstrongWhy has there been much noise over India&rsquos nuclear liability regimestrongbr India&rsquos civil nuclear liability regime is victim-friendly and offers adequate fast compensation without any discrimination to victims However it&rsquos tremendously unbalanced and unworkable and a deterrent to the nuclear industry&rsquos growthppNo other country has the right to recourse from suppliers unless it&rsquos mentioned in the contract No other industry has a similar regimeppIf other industries are also covered by such a liability regime it will lead to zero growth Nuclear power is the safest energy source Polluter should pay the principle That&rsquos agreed But who is the polluter The Liability Act and the Rules strike an optimum balance between a satisfactory compensation to victims implementability and the continuation of nuclear programmeppstrongWhat are the implementation problemsstrongbr The Indian model for imported reactors will not be turn-key models where there is a single designer equipment supplier and an erection commissioning agency There could be many designers and engineering procurement and construction contractors How logical rational and legal it will be to hold a single agency responsibleppIndia has got more than 3000 suppliers with contract values ranging from a few lakhs to many crores Now each of them has to take insurance for Rs 1500 crore or moreppEven with respect to imported nuclear power plants considerable indigenisation will be undertaken due to the policy of the country and to reduce costppEven the imported equipment would be manufactured in more than 40 countries by different suppliersppThis will result in difficulties in determining the supplier on whom to take recourseppstrongIs the right to recourse to claim damages from suppliers when a nuclear accident happens owing to the fault of a supplier provision unnecessarystrongbr A careful reading of the Chapter V Right to Recourse 2 b ii definition &ldquoprovides build to print or detailed design specifications to a vendor for manufacturing a system equipment or component or building a structure and is responsible to the operator for design and quality assurance&rdquoppThis section has ambiguity as a supplier cannot be held responsible for design Responsibility may be limited to only quality assurance for materials and manufacturingppThe operator is solely responsible for safety The licence review by AERB in India 1 million technical man hours is extensive deep rigorous and goes to the bottom of each issue During operation periodic mandatory surveillance inspection performance tests stipulated by AERB ensures safetyppstrongDo you feel the liability regime the Rules and the Act will adversely impact India&rsquos nuclear capacity additionstrongbr If the liability regime the Rules and the Act continue to remain inconsistent with the Annex to the Convention of Supplementary Compensation CSC it will make any attempted ratification by India problematic and subject to challenge by the other signatories when the treaty eventually comes into effectppstrongSo according to you what is the way forwardstrongbr I want to reiterate here that nuclear energy is inevitable for India What needs to be appreciated in the context of the nuclear sector is that a good safety and security culture in all organisations engaged in the sector should prevent accidentsppThere should be national mandate and political consensus on the nuclear programme and all nuclear issues including liability The national mandate with political consensus should result in a policy for the nuclear sector which should be long term clear sustained and irreversiblep

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