NuclearGate: Why the CAG Report on AERB is important

Lalita Ramdas

I just about managed to catch a glimpse of the interview with Dr Gopalakrishnan speaking live from Hyderabad just before boarding a flight to Trivandrum!

Two points to make:

The Anchor during the lunch time news Broadcast was primarily focusing on the more generalised aspect of radiation controls – ie xrays, medical records, overall radiation monitoring etc. Although their web page speaks of NO NUCLEAR RADIATION SAFETY POLICY IN LAST 3 DECADES – CAG’ the average viewer cannot automatically make the link with the critical area of Nuclear radiation and nuclear power plants in particular.

The other and most important point made in the CAG report to my mind is the fundamental question of HOW the AERB is constituted , its legal status, and to whom it is accountable. The Executive Summary is devastatingly frank and unambiguous on this:

1. On page vi, the report says:

“although international commitments, good practices and internal expert committee’s recommendations were available, the legal status of AERB continued to be that of an authority subordinate to the Central Government, with powers delgated to it by the latter.

AERB did not have the authority for framing or revising the rules relating to nuclear and radiation .

AERB failed to prepare a nuclear and radiation safety policy for the country in spite of a specific mandate in its Constitution order of 1983. The absence of such a policy at macro level can hamper micro-level planning of radiation safety in the country.

ON PAGE IX – RECOMMENDATIONS – it is clear and unambiguous – see bullet point 1

“the Government may ensure that the nuclear regulator is empowered and independent. For this purpose, it should be created in law and should be able to exercise necessary authority in the setting of regulations, verifications of compiance, with the regulations and enforcement of the same in the cases of non-compliance.”

This was simply NOT touched upon, and which to my way of thinking, should have been paramount – and was a promise made by the PM?

Please also see:

Former Union Power Secretary Dr. EAS Sarma’s take on the NuclearGate

Weaken the regulator, compromise safety: The case of nuclear technology in India

So, should any of you have an opportunity to put this record right, through electronic or other media interviews, please do so.

Highly recommend that the `experts’ amongst us do read this report thoroughly – and I think it should provide solid evidence and ammunition to reinforce the demand that PMANE is making. Even for a `lay’ person like me, it was like reading a thriller – and I had to force myself to stop in the we hours!




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