Amidst the political storm brewing over the past few days, an important development was the tabling of the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Rules for the Nuclear Liability Act in the Lok Sabha. We got a hold of that report after it was tabled; we scanned it and have uploaded it here for you to see. What makes this report important is the fact that it has been adopted by representatives from many different political parties. This means they have stood their ground to make sure we are protected from a nuclear mishap.
Earlier this month we spoke to you through your mobiles. We informed you that the Nuclear Liability Act is going to be diluted unless we raise an alarm and stop those attempts. Many of you responded. We got in total 186,310 missed calls from all over the country. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Tamil Nadu to Maharashtra and from Bengal, UP, MP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, Assam, Orissa, Uttarakhand. From the 186,310 people who gave a missed call, 36000 showed their support in the form of individual contribution. We used these contributions to place a full page advertisement on Independence Day.
This advertisement, a voice as loud as the voice of 186,310 people from across the country, was difficult to ignore. The Standing Committee report on the notified Rules vindicates our stand and the stand 186,310 people took. The damning report highlights the attempts to "dilute" the supplier liability clause in the Act and recommends that the Department of Atomic Energy drafts a new set of Rules which should be in accordance with the Act.
The Rule number 24 (1) – attempted to limit the total compensation a supplier could be liable for by making the maximum liability based on the total value of the contract rather than the total cap of 1500crs.
The Rule number 24 (2) – attempted to limit the number of years a supplier could be held accountable by stating that the supplier will only be liable for the first 5yrs of the licensing period or what is mentioned in the contract – whichever is less.
The framing of the Rules is brazenly in favour of the (foreign) suppliers whose interests have been given precedence over that of the Indian citizens. At every stage, the DAE has bent backwards to accommodate the interests of the suppliers - whether it is reducing the insurance costs or reducing the liability period. At no stage have the interests of the Indian citizen been kept in view.
The Standing Committee report states that both the Rules are not in accordance with the Nuclear Liability Act and hence it dilutes the supplier liability provision. The report also mentions that the Rules remain silent with regards to interim relief for the affected people. To which DAE blatantly responded that there is no need for interim relief since the compensation will be given out at the earliest. We fail to understand why the DAE and the NPCIL and AERB continuously underestimate the people of India.
Despite this momentary respite, the struggle is far from over. The Rules for the Nuclear Liability Act need to be approved in Parliament before we can have a stringent Nuclear Liability Act in place. The industry, which has historically tried to avoid liability, will not leave any stones unturned. And we must too be ready to highlight any dilution attempts whatsoever. And for that, we'd need your help and support.