People’s consultation rejects the nuclear liability bill

Popular voice demands changes to factor in people’s security and health

Press release - July 6, 2010
HYDERABAD, India — The first public consultation on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage bill 2010 held in Hyderabad today, charged the bill with being the facilitator of corporate immunity.

That it should hold people more important than multinationals in terms of health and security was stressed upon by about 40 lawyers, experts, academics, civil society representatives and journalists who attended the parallel people’s consultation.

Terming the bill as denial by law to the right to seek adequate compensation in case of a nuclear accident, people unanimously demanded that there should be unlimited liability and it should be channelled to the entire supply chain.

"As such nuclear energy is not a safe energy option. During its normal operation it affects the health of people and that needs to be kept in mind when we define nuclear damage. Various studies and field surveys done by Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya highlight the fact that the people living near a reactor face lots of health issues and that needs to be compensated as well," said Dr Surendra Gadekar, a Gandhian and former faculty at the Indian Institute of Science and currently with the Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya.

The parallel consultation was organised by Greenpeace and supported by National Alliance for People’s Movement—Andhra Pradesh (NAPM) to include more people into the consultation process.

The nuclear liability bill is currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which in an advertisement on June 24 had called for wider consultations.

“With the Bhopal gas tragedy fresh in our minds, it is crucial for the government to factor in unlimited liability. Also the risk should be calculated logically and the amount of money put as compensation should mirror it. The government cannot arbitrarily decide the compensation amount,” said Karuna Raina, Nuclear and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The forum also demanded that the committee visit nuclear power plants and proposed sites. Saraswati Kavula of NAPM said, "People should be at the centre of this bill and therefore the committee should visit sites and then they should come up with recommendations".

Questioning the intent of the bill, Prof. M Sridhar of NALSAR, said “When the law itself allows openly an unreasonable limit on operator and absolute immunity on supplier or parent corporation headquartered elsewhere, what kind of justice it can render to the victims of possible nuclear accidents? If tested on what our constitution and judiciary laid down over a period of time, the Act of this nature cannot stand scrutiny of the constitutional court.”

The consultations will be carried over to Mumbai tomorrow. The outcomes of the two consultations along with the roundtable earlier conducted in Delhi will be presented to the Standing Committee.

In order to get people’s views in the foray, Greenpeace had in March 2010 launched a petition drive asking people to register their protest with the Prime Minister’s Office. More than 5000 petitions were also faxed to the PMO. To date almost two lakh people have signed the petition.

Greenpeace also has the support of 74 law outfits and associations who signed a petition detailing the contentious clauses of the bill and Greenpeace demands.

For further information, contact

Shachi Chaturvedi, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India
098187 50007,

Saraswati Kavula, National Alliance for People’s Movement – Andhra Pradesh, 9849718364,

Karuna Raina, Nuclear and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India