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State liable in case of terror attack at atomic plants


New Delhi : The government has clarified that in case of a terrorist strike at nuclear installations, the state and not the operator will be liable and assured that the civil nuclear liability bill allows it to access an international corpus of funds in case of an accident.

The civil nuclear liability legislation has come under fire as it caps the operator’s liability at Rs.500 crore (approx $100 million), which is seen by the opposition to be far lower than the compensation required in case of a nuclear accident.

The government, however, insists that the bill leaves certain options open to scale up compensation amount in case of a nuclear accident.

The government can increase the compensation amount and bear the extra liability, officials said on condition of anonymity.

In case of terror attacks, war or act of god (natural calamities affecting nuclear plants), the bill makes it clear that the state will have to bear the liability in these cases, and not the operator, the officials said.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill has put a financial cap on compensation at Rs.2,100 crore (300 million SDRs) and limits the liability of the operator to Rs.500 crore, sources said.

After the nuclear liability is passed in parliament, India can be part of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) adopted by International Atomic Energy Agency, UN nuclear watchdog, in 1997.

If the government needs more funds than Rs.2,100 crore to compensate the victims, it could draw upon an international corpus proposed to be set up under the CSC and draw an additional about $500 million.

The CSC has, however, yet to come into force as it requires five states with a minimum of 400,000 MWe installed nuclear capacity to ratify the convention. The US, Argentina, Morocco and Romania have ratified the CSC so far.