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Civil Nuclear Liability Act

Civil Nuclear Liability Act

Civil Nuclear Liability Act: The new law holds operators responsible for accidents without needing to prove fault and ensures they can seek reimbursement from specific parties. Operators are liable for damages up to Rs 500 crore, and the government covers amounts beyond that up to 300 million SDR. All operators, except the central government, must have insurance or financial backing to cover their liabilities. The law outlines who can claim compensation and designates authorities to assess and grant it. Non-compliance with the law can lead to penalties.

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Key Issues and Analysis

  • If a major nuclear disaster occurs, the operator might not have enough liability coverage to fully compensate the victims. This could leave affected individuals without adequate support. Additionally, India might miss out on accessing an international fund meant for such disasters due to this limitation. Compared to some other countries, the liability cap imposed on the operator is relatively low.
  • If all nuclear plants are owned by the government, there wouldn’t be a need for a liability cap on the operator. However, it’s uncertain if the government plans to allow private companies to run these plants.
  • The government will determine the extent of environmental damage and economic loss caused by a nuclear incident. This could pose a conflict of interest if the government is also responsible for compensating the affected parties.
  • The provision in the Bill regarding the right of recourse against the supplier doesn’t align with certain international agreements India might want to be part of in the future.
  • The time limit of ten years for filing compensation claims may not be sufficient for individuals suffering from nuclear-related injuries or damage.
  • While the Bill allows operators and suppliers to be held liable under other laws, it’s unclear which specific laws would apply. Varying interpretations by the courts could either restrict or overly broaden the scope of this provision.


  • India has tried to reassure suppliers by placing limits on their liability under the CLND Rules and establishing a nuclear insurance pool. However, it’s worth noting that:
  • The restrictions on supplier liability might not cover situations outlined in Section 17(b) and Section 17(c) of the CLNDA Act.
  • The CLNDA Act doesn’t explicitly forbid claims against suppliers under general tort law.
  • The nuclear insurance pool only offers coverage up to Rs. 1500 crore, which may not be sufficient, particularly for tort-related liabilities.
  • Legal challenges against various provisions of the CLNDA Act and CLND Rules, which reduce or cap supplier liability, are currently awaiting resolution in Indian courts.

To instill greater confidence in suppliers, we need more certainty in the legal framework, which hinges on the outcome of the ongoing court cases. Additionally, there’s a need for a larger insurance pool and further legislative measures to enhance supplier confidence.

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