Govt mulling autonomy for nuclear power regulator

Govt mulling autonomy for nuclear power regulator

New Delhi: As it puts in place massive expansion plans in the nuclear power sector, government is mulling giving autonomy to the atomic energy regulator by amending the relevant laws.

“We are examining proposals to make the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) by amending the Atomic Energy Act (AEA)," official sources said in New Delhi.

Currently, the AERB functions under the Atomic Energy Commission chaired by secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

The DAE at present runs 18 nuclear power plants across the country through state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

There have been demands from various quarters for quite some time on granting autonomy to the domestic nuclear regulator.

However, the government does not have any fixed timetable within which the amendments have to be carried out.

The autonomy to AERB is necessary with the NPCIL joining hands with large public sector companies like National Thermal Power Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation for setting up atomic power plants.

The AEA also needs to be amended to bring it in line with certain international conventions on safety of nuclear materials that India is party to.

The first Atomic Energy Act was enacted in 1948 when the Department of Atomic Energy was formed. It was later repealed and transformed into Atomic Energy Act in 1962.

The Act provides for development, control and use of atomic energy for welfare of people of India.

In 1971, under one of its guidelines, radiation protection rules came into force under the director, Directorate of Radiation Protection, which was meant mainly for non-DAE units or industries.

In 1983, under section 27 of the Act, regulation and safety functions were delegated to the newly formed Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.