Modi Govt’s Undermining of Liability Law: Journey from Bhopal Disaster to Nuclear Disaster

Gopal Krishna | Mainstream Weekly

How much compensation should Indians get as compensation for nuclear damage—Rs 2400 crores Or Rs 7844 crores Or Rs 19,785 crores Or Rs 50,000 crores Or Rs 1.14 lakh crores Or Rs 6.4 lakh crores Or Rs 8.3 lakh crores Or Rs 60,000 crores?

“We may admire what he does, but we despise what he is.” (referring tohumans who act mechanically on instructions) – Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1792

The 33rd anniversary of the industrial disaster of Bhopal, some six years after the world’s largest-ever industrial disaster, wherein the triple nuclear meltdowns occurred at Fukushima Daiichi and the upcoming movie, Parmanu—The Story of Pokhran by John Abraham creates a compelling logic to take stock of the existing legal regime that grapples with the issue of liabilities related to nuclear emergencies. Ahead of its release the actor, who is also the producer and co-writer of the movie, made claims about how nuclear energy could be used to better the energy situation in the county as nuclear energy is zero gas emission energy on NDTV1 disregarding its cumulative environmental footprint. His narrative reminded one of The Yes Men Fix the World, a 2009 political documentary movie that portrayed the aftereffects of the Bhopal disaster.

After the enactment of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, which was assented to by the President on September 21, 2010 and enforced from November 11, 2011 by the Department of Atomic Energy under the Prime Minister, the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011 under the Act was notified on November 11, 2011. There was a delay of about thirteen months in enforcing the Act in violation of the provisions of the legislation: it provided nuclear companies ample time to influence subordinate legislation. The Rules starkly demonstrate the subordination of Parliament to the executive.

Its relevance can be understood from the 57- page report of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) Working Group on Civil Nuclear Energy that repeatedly cited the Supreme Court’s order in the Charan Lal Sahu vs Union of India (actually Raj Kumar Keshwani vs Union of India) case in which the validity of the doctrine of parens patriae (government’s guardianship of citizens) invoked through the Bhopal Act, 1985, was upheld. This excluded the victims from filing their own cases. The consent of the victims was never sought at any stage. The FICCI’s report formed the basis for the legislation on civil liability for nuclear damage.

The reports of the PSC underline what has been changing under the influence of nuclear companies like GE-Hitachi articulated through joint statements.

The 30-page report on action taken by government on the observations/recommendations contained in the 27th report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Subordinate Legislation on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011 was presented to the 16th Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014. The 27th report was presented in the 15th Lok Sabha on August 28, 2012. At the time of its presentation the PSC was headed by Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from Maharashtra, for the period 2014-15. Its members were: Idris Ali, C.R. Chaudhary, P. P.Chaudhary, Shyama Charan Gupta, Jhina Hikaka, S.P. Muddahanumegowda, V. Panneerselvam, Prem Das Rai, Chandu Lal Sahu, Ram Prasad Sarmah, Narendra Keshav Sawaikar, Ram Kumar Sharma, Nandi Yellaiah and Nandi Yellaiah. Gandhi, who has studied till 10th standard in Pune University, continues to be the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee reconstituted on September 1, 2017 that grapples with complex issues of subordinate legislation.

Under his chairpersonship the PSC’s report observed that it does not wish to pursue its own recommendation with the government in the matter of “Interim Relief to the victims of Nuclear Damage”. This is quite bizarre because the PSC report is manifestly self-contradictory in its reasoning and inference.

The relevant part of the report reads: “The recommendation of the Committee was aimed at incorporating a suitable enabling provision either in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act or the Rules for treating the amount awarded as compensation by the Claims Commissioner/ Nuclear Damage Control Commission (NDCC) as interim relief and disbursing the same in the event of an applicant seeking judicial review of the award….The Committee are dismayed to note that Chapter IV of the CLND Rules, 2011 deals with various issues viz., application of compensation, notice to opposite parties, supply of copies of docu-ments, examination of applicant, appearance and examination of the parties etc. which are not connected with treating the compensation awarded as interim relief and disbursing the same pending verdict of the court. The Committee are of the opinion that the Depart-ment (of Atomic Energy) has digressed the issue and have not considered the aspect of inherent wider public interest in the right perspective. The Committee, therefore, once again reiterate that suitable enabling provision be incorporated either in the CLND Act or the Rules to take care of the interests of the applicant seeking judicial review of the award. The Committee would also like to be apprised of conclusive action taken in this regard.” But later it concluded that it has decided not to pursue it.

The report also observes that it has decided not to pursue its own recommendation with the government dealing with “Right of Recourse”. This is quite strange as well because the PSC report is manifestly inconsistent in its approach.

On the issue of “Right of Recourse”, the report of PSC states: “The Committee are perplexed to note that on the one hand, the Department (of Atomic Energy) has concurred with the observations made by the Committee that victims of nuclear incident will keep filing claims as and when a damage is noticed by them and on the other hand, the Department has curtly linked this aspect with Explanation 2 of Rule 24 which stipulates that the operator’s claim shall in no case exceed the actual amount of compensation paid by him to the date of filing such claim. The moot question, therefore, still remains unanswered as to whether the operator can make successive claims from the supplier irrespective of time limit prescribed under Section 15(2) and 18 of the CLND Act. The Committee are of the firm belief that any ambiguity in the Act/ Rules cannot be wiped out by way of clarifications which are especially not part of relevant Act/ Rules and such types of situations often pave way for avoidable litigations before the already burdened courts. The Committee would, therefore, reiterate their earlier recommendation that CLND Act or Rules thereunder should be suitably amended to provide necessary clarity on this aspect. The Committee would await further development on follow-up exercise in this direction.”

Instead of waiting to follow up, the committee states that it has decided not to pursue the matter with the government.

On the issue of Rule 24 of the CLND Rules that violates the stringent liability mandate provided in Section 17 of the CLND Act by delegated legislation, the PSC states that it does “not desire to pursue in view of the replies received from the government” contrary to its own contention against government’s stance.

The PSC’s report rightly observes: “The Committee are of the view that reply of the Department is devoid of specific mechanism as well as remedial measures to ensure that delegated legislation should be consistent with the substantial provisions of the Act and should not contain any limitations or excesses which are not contemplated under the Act and the Department (of Atomic Energy) seems to be happy to go with the existing provisions of excessive delegation mechanically. In the process they have tried to justify the status quo by stating that specifying a minimum amount for the operator’s right of recourse and the corresponding time period as specified in Rule 24 is intended to secure the interest of the Indian Operator. The Department has failed to appreciate that Rule 24 is restrictive and may encourage Supplier at the cost of Indian Operator. Though the existing provision may not prohibit the Operator and the Supplier from entering into a larger right of recourse, yet the Committee are apprehensive that there may not be any propensity for the Supplier to agree for a recourse higher than the minimum amount and the time period prescribed. The Committee, therefore, expect(s) the Department to re-visit the related provisions of the CLND Rules which appear to be in conflict with the relevant Sections of the Act and work out modalities to provide an effective prescription for delegated legislation consistent with the provisions of the Act.”

But the PSC has chosen to surrender parliament’s prerogative to defend its legislation before the DEA due to some invisible hand when it offers its recommendation.

In this way it is evident that although govern-ment’s reply is so unsatisfactory, the PSC of the 16th Lok Sabha felt “dismayed” and noted that DAE “digressed” the issue. Unmindful of this Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi headed Parliamentary Committee does “not desire to pursue (affront to parliament) in view of the replies received from the government”.

This is inexplicable and enigmatic given the agreement of the PSC, of the 16th Lok Sabha with the recommendations of its predecessor, the P. Karunakaran-headed PSC, presented to the 15th Lok Sabha on August 28, 2012. Karunakaran is a CPI-M Member of Parliament from Kerala. As to India following the Canadian example, it is far from the truth. Canada’s Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act was passed by its legislature on November 7, 2014. This Act provides for preservation of the principle of absolute liability even if a nuclear incident is caused by “terrorist activity”. In India’s CNLD Act, terrorist activity is not covered although G.K. Pillai, the then Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, had argued for it. The Canadian Act provides for a progressive increase in the operator’s liability from $ 650 million if the nuclear incident arises within one year after the Act comes into force and $ 1 billion if the nuclear incident arises after the third year of the Act coming into force. In India, the operator’s liability is fixed at $ 250 million (Rs 1500 crores).

It may be recalled that the Bhopal Gas Disaster (Processing of Claims) Ordinance, 1985 was promulgated on February 20, 1985 whereby the Government of India appoints itself as sole representative of victims in any legal dealings with the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). On March 29, 1985, the Parliament had enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985. In violation of this Act, the Govern-ment of India accepted $ 470 million (Rs 2400 crores) after demanding $ 3.3 billion (Rs 19,785 crores) as compensation, as settlement money with the UCC for the victims of the disaster without consulting the victims. In 2010, the Government filed a curative petition seeking Rs 7844 crores as damages although the survivors demanded $ 8.1 billion ((Rs 50,000 crores) as compensation for the disaster. In the case of the oil spill disaster by BP, the Government of the USA got a compensation of $ 20 billion (about Rs 1.14 lakh crores). Japan’s Fukushima disaster is estimated at $ 105 billion (Rs 6.4 lakh crores). It is 429 times higher than the Indian insurance pool’s capital. This is more than the $ 13.6 billion (Rs 8.3 lakh crore) cover provided by America’s Price-Anderson Act, with an additional $10 billion (Rs 60,000 crores) pledged by the Department of Energy of the USA. Japan is now establishing a new State-backed compen-sation institution to be funded by utilities and government bonds totalling $ 42.5 billion.

The answer given to a starred question posed by Karunakaran to the Prime Minister reveals why foreign nuclear companies seem happy with India.

Karunakaran asked the Prime Minister to state whether certain provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 are being objected to and if so, the details of the provisions of the Act which are being objected; if so, the reaction of the government thereto and whether India has benefited from the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement; if so, the details thereof along with the number of new plants being established in the country; and (e) the details of the steps taken/being taken for increasing generation of electricity from nuclear energy.

On August 6, 2014, Dr Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions in the Prime Minister’s Office, replied that “Certain provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act are being objected by nuclear equipment suppliers. Specifically, these relate to Section 17(b) of the Act which provides for the operator’s right of recourse on the supplier where the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of an act of the supplier or his employee, which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defect or substandard services.” He said: “In order to address the concerns raised by domestic suppliers, a scheme based on obtaining appropriate insurance cover from domestic insurance companies, is currently being worked out.” The Minister stated that India has benefitted from the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement. The fact is that it is a universal truth that as of November 2017, there is no benefit sight.

The new Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules gives plant operators the right of recourse against equipment suppliers related to “the extent of the operator’s liability” or “the value of the contract itself, whichever is less.” They also limit it to the duration of the initial plant licence “or the product liability period, whichever is longer”.

It now turns out that the “scheme based on obtaining appropriate insurance cover from domestic insurance companies” which was being worked out “to address the concerns raised by domestic suppliers” has been extended to foreign suppliers from the USA as well.

It may be recollected that ahead of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the US President in November, on September 27, 2013, a “Sensational Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) note” came to light that exposed the government’s plans to dodge nuke liability issues. Under the influence of nuclear companies, the US President compelled the Indian Government to dilute the key provisions of the India’s nuclear liability law to ensure that the USA’s nuclear reactor suppliers are not held liable in the event of an accident caused by faulty or defective equipment.

The PSC reports must be seen together with the CCS note and the controversial opinion of the Attorney- General that was provided to the Department of Atomic Energy in response to a reference, dated September 4, 2013, sent to him. The Attorney-General opined that it is for the operator of a nuclear plant in India to decide whether it wished to exercise the ‘right of recourse’ provided to it by section 17 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 in contempt of Section 17 (b) of the Act meant to ensure that foreign suppliers are back-traced to the “equipment or material with patent or latent defects or sub-standard services”. This exercise along with the Modi Government’s appeasement of nuclear companies presents a stark case of contempt towards Parliament in furtherance of the interests of the USA’s nuclear companies.

The Attorney-General had given similar opinion in the context of the Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Russia stating: “Section 17(a) provides for recourse if such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing. If the operator chooses not to incorporate such a provision in the contract, it would be open for him to do so” in October 2012. The DAE had sought confirmation “regarding the presumption that the existing provisions of section 17 of the Act facilitate the operator either to exercise his ‘right of recourse’ by incorporating a clause in the contract or to waive his right or to limit the liability on the part of the supplier”.

Notably, the Ministry of External Affairs has held that “a right was given to the operator to have recourse against the supplier but there was no mandatory obligation or requirement for the operator to do so and that the operator could choose not to exercise that right”. the Attorney- General has reportedly endorsed this view.

Section 17 of the Act grants the operator the right of recourse under one of three conditions: (a) if the right is expressly provided for in writing; (b) if the accident is caused by faulty material or equipment provided by the supplier; or (c) the accident results from an act of commission or omission of an individual done with intent to cause nuclear damage. Section 17(b) suggests Parliament intended to hold suppliers responsible even if there is no contractual liability.

With the government’s clarification to the effect that clause 17 (b) of the CLND Act will remain dormant, it emerges that section 46 that provide the right to victims to sue in case of a nuclear accident as per law of Torts will not apply to the suppliers. The assurance of the Government of India to the effect that it will ensure that the operator (NPCIL) does not use its ‘right of recourse’ against suppliers of nuclear reactors is an autocratic act. Notably, a Rs 15 billion ($ 222 million) insurance pool has been created to shield the operator, NPCIL, and the suppliers against claims.

Unmindful of the fact that the French nuclear giant Areva S.A. is facing a financial crisis, the 9900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) planned in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra remains on the table for a deal with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to India. It is germane to note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) cannot be trusted with sharing the truth about the nuclear catastrophe in general and about Japan in particular and such imminent disasters in India. An old treaty between the WHO and IAEA under the influence of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), established in 1975, makes the WHO to disclose only made to order reports on health impacts of nuclear radiations in consultation with the IAEA.

The NSG comprises of 46 nuclear supplier states including China, Russia, and the US, that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology to non-nuclear-weapon states. In 2008, the NSG agreed to exempt India from its requirement that recipient countries have in place comprehensive IAEA safeguards covering all nuclear activities. The US got exemption from the NSG for three years to undertake nuclear trade with India. India is pursuing its nuclear energy path under the overarching guidelines of this very IAEA.

It is quite distressing that the Modi Govern-ment continues to disregard the path shown by countries which have abandoned the nuclear energy path. It is adopting an ostrich-like approach in the face of inevitable and unpredic-table disasters like Cheronbyl and Fukushima.

The 2011 Rules insulate foreign nuclear suppliers in particular using Clause 9 of the Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004 which provides that the license for the establishment or decommissioning of radiation installation will be valid for five years effectively denying Right of Recourse to Indian operators of nuclear reactors under clause 24 of the 2011 Rules.

If these Rules are seen along with clause 18 of the Nuclear Liability Act of 2010 which deals with the “extinction of right to claim” wherein “right to claim compensation for nuclear damage extinguishes” if such a claim is not made within a period of “ten years, in case of damage to property” and within “twenty years, in the case of personal injury to any person”, it is clear that Parliament and the citizens have been taken for a ride.

Clause 24 of the 2011 Rules provides that the “right to recourse shall be for the duration of initial license” or “product liability period” whichever is longer. Product liability period is defined as “the period for which the supplier has undertaken liability for patent or latent defects or sub-standard services under a contract”.

It is “inconsistent” as per clause 49 (1) read with Clause 17 (b) of the Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010. This act of subordinate legislation is an act of contempt towards Parliament in order to pander to the demands of nuclear suppliers in general and US suppliers in particular.

Both the Liability Act and Liability Rules refer to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) that has been examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests. In a Press Release, this Parliamentary Committee said: the “Atomic Energy Regulatory Board observed that “the Fukushima incident in Japan has led to worldwide concerns and apprehen-sions on safety issues relating to nuclear power”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee had noted in its report on Civil Liability on Nuclear Damage Bill that Secretaries of eight relevant Ministries were not consulted during the drafting of the Bill. It had recommended that in future they should be consulted. Such an occasion has not come so far.

In the post-Fukushima disaster world, the adoption of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011 is a declaration that nuclear energy is not safe. There is no other plausible reason for the enactment of these Rules by citing 2004 Rules framed under the Atomic Energy Act of 1962 to save foreign suppliers.

The CLND Rules have a resonance of the bad judgment of Justice A. M. Ahmadi in the matter of Bhopal’s industrial disaster. The Wikileaks expose has already revealed that India’s nuclear programme is not in the interest of Indian citizens because the government has been compelled by the transnational nuclear companies to unleash propaganda about how no disaster will ever happen in India.

The Indian Government remains callous towards the recent recommendations of a fact- finding team led by former Union Finance Secretary which says: “There are plenty of credible and scientific studies by pioneering institutions and experts who have developed convincing models of a comprehensive ‘carbon-free, nuclear-free’ energy policy with a mix of energy conservation, efficiency, R&D on renewable sources, and larger social, social-political changes ensuring greater community and public use of resources”, referring to report of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Claims by the Prime Minister and likes of John Abraham must be verified and cross-checked by a high powered committee of independent experts given the fact that Prime Minister, who is in-charge of Department of Atomic Energy, appears to be guilty of dereliction of duty because he chose to ignore what Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare testified while deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests. The Committee’s report mentioned that “while drafting the Bill the Department of Atomic Energy did not consult them. Since the response system to deal with any kind of emergency of such type, the hospitals are not well-equipped, it is natural that mortality and morbidity due to multiple burn, blasts, radiation injuries and psycho-social impact could be on a very high scale and medical tackling of such a large emergency could have enough repercussions in the nearby areas of radioactive fallout.”

Union Health Secretary Sujata Rao had mentioned that in the entire Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, there is not a single clause which speaks about taking health care during radiological emergencies. It reflects only about payment of compensation due to health impacts of such radiation. She suggested that while setting up nuclear plants consideration may also be given to the fact that there should be hospitals and hospital-trained doctors near such establish-ments and arrangements should also be made for free treatment of people who are affected by serious nuclear fallout”. The Union Health Secretary confessed that her Ministry is nowhere to meet an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies.

The observations of G.K. Pillai, then Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, illustrate how the Department of Atomic Energy has not been rigorous in the drafting of the Bill. While commenting on the conditions in which the operator of a nuclear power plant could be made liable for nuclear damage, Pillai stated that the Bill contained such terms as armed conflict, hostilities, civil war, insurrection or an act of terrorism that have wide meanings but have not been defined in the present Bill. Therefore there is a need for inserting meanings of these terms from other laws, in Section 2 of this Bill. Such vagueness in connotations can make the operators negligent in observing security procedures and can create situations of disputes between the operator and the Central Government.

The Prime Minister must be deemed responsible for unpardonable negligence for having ignored the suggestions of the Union Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment who pointed out that grave natural disaster should not include earthquakes or floods while referring to Clause 5 (1) (i) which provided for non-liability of the operator for any nuclear damage arising out of a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character.

The government’s statements and assurances feign ignorance about how testimony after testimony before the Parliamentary Committee had asked for deletion of the word terrorism from the Bill but the same is not reflected in the Committee’s report despite the fact that the Union Defence Secretary, who also appeared before the Committee, categorically stated, “under different layers of protection, nuclear assets including nuclear installations are being protected through Defence”. However, he admitted that “absolute and fool proof protection cannot be guaranteed for any nuclear or other assets in the country during peace or war”. Exceptions for acts of terrorism and natural disasters can easily be used by the supplier and the operator to wash their hands off any nuclear disaster.

It is evident that the Indian Government has adopted an ostrich-like policy on the nuclear energy path for energy security.

Notably, on May 28, 1959, the WHO’s assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with the IAEA founded just two years before in 1957. This agreement has given the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear energy. This prevents the WHO from playing its proper role.

The WHO’s objective is to promote “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”. The IAEA’s mission is to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”.

Efforts are on to persuade the WHO to abandon its WHO-IAEA Agreement. The protest has continued through the WHO’s 62nd World Health Assembly. The scientific case against the agreement is building up, most recently when the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) called for its abandonment at its conference held in May 2009 in Lesvos, Greece. The question which remains unanswered is: Isn’t India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) both the promoter and regulator of nuclear energy facilities on the lines of IAEA? Is it sane to ask the possible perpetrators of acts of omission and commission to regulate on their own? This is what both DAE and IAEA do.

The government has approved and financially sanctioned the construction of the 10 indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors totalling around 7000 MW to be completed by 2031 at a total estimated cost of $ 16.3 billion at a constant price level excluding inflation and interest during construction. It has attempted to suppress all the protests which are underway seeking abandonment of proposed nuclear plants at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, Jaitapur, Maharashtra, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, Mahi Banswara, Rajasthan, Fatehabad in Haryana, Mithivirdi in Gujarat, Kaiga in Karnataka, Kovvada and Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh. The protesters also seek cancellation of new uranium mining sites proposed in Domiasiat in Meghalaya and Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

In such a situation, there is need for a white paper from an independent team on existing nuclear power plants and uranium mining sites like the one in Jadugoda in Jharkhand.

In view of several unanswered questions, there is a compelling logic in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe to scrap IAEA-WHO Agreement and Atomic Energy Act of 1962.

It emerges that like Japan, India too is emerging as a corporate state that discourages reporting on nuclear safety, health and deaths. It is apparent that release of Parmanu is aimed at the advocacy of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons in the face of the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination on September 20, 2017. Notably, Japan’s refusal to join the treaty and to pursue a nuclear-free path after six years of Fukushima and more than 72 years of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem to reveal that democratically elected leaders lack agency as they are held hostage by the corporate donors.

Given the fact that at present India has surplus power to the tune of 3000-4000 MW as India’s total power capacity increased from 243 GW in March 2014 to 320 GW in March 2017 in the last three years,2 there is no compelling logic for nuclear energy. Notably, nuclear energy contributes to less than three per cent of India’s electricity production.

It is noteworthy that the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) has shown that 77 per cent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies. The findings, from over 120 researchers working with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated that the rising penetration of renewable energies could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtC02eq) between 2010 and 2050. The developing countries are hosting more than 50 per cent of current global renewable energy capacity.

Had India been free from the vice-like grip of the nuclear commercial Czars, it would have followed the path of countries like Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and others who have decided to go nuclear-free and adopt sustainable, renewable, decentralised and equitable forms of energy based on felt need for energy and desisted from blind adoption of the 24X7 model of energy supply. The unfolding of negotiations on civil liability nuclear damage illustrates how all existing institutions have been cold-shouldered for a bear hug with the foreign nuclear entities.

Like the previous governments, the current regime too is busy insulating hazardous chemical companies from liabilities resulting in catastrophic consequences. A petition on the constitutionality of the Act and Rules is pending in the Supreme Court regarding violation of the Right to Life. The fate of the CNLD Act and CNLD Rules present a litmus test to prove whether the narrative of India being a parliamentary democracy is a fact or fiction.


1. John Abraham, 2017, ‘On Benefits Of Nuclear Energy’,, accessed on October 2.

2. Anupama Airy, 2017, ‘A Big Turn-around in India’s Power Sector’, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, May 16, accessed on June 23.

Dr Gopal Krishna, who is the editor of, had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, that examined the Civil Liability on Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010.

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