New Delhi: A bill to establish a legal framework to regulate nuclear and radiation safety and establish an authority to carry out the task was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011, introduced by minister of state in the prime minister’s office V Narayanasamy, provides for creation of a Council for Nuclear Safety headed by the Prime Minister to oversee and review policies relating to radiation safety.
It also provides for establishment of a Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority to regulate radiation and nuclear safety and achieve the highest standards on the basis of scientific approach, operating experience and best practices followed by the nuclear industry, the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.
This Authority would also ensure the use of radiation and atomic energy in all its applications is safe for the health of the radiation workers, the people and the environment, it said.
The bill came in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in the Lok Sabha during the budget session assuring that India’s nuclear safety regulatory framework would be strengthened.
The statement had come after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and release of radioactive materials, following the To-hoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan on 11 March.
Several members had then expressed concern and apprehension on safety issues relating to nuclear power. The Fukushima disaster was not only the largest in Japan, but is dubbed as the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The bill also provides for establishment of regulatory bodies for the purpose of national defence and security.
It seeks to empower the Council of Nuclear Safety to constitute an Appellate Authority to enable the central government or any person aggrieved by an order of the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority to file an appeal.
Government had set up the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board under the Atomic Energy Act 1962 to carry out certain regulatory and safety functions.
But after the Fukushima disaster, the need was felt to further strengthen regulation of nuclear and radiation safety in the country, with the government attaching “highest importance” to the matter.