Need law to fix liability for disasters: Chavan

June 8th, 2010 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) A legislation for fixing civil and criminal liability in case of disasters like the Bhopal gas tragedy is urgently needed, Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan said here Tuesday.
“I am sure the need to set a legislation for civil and criminal liability is urgent and the government will certainly look at the totality of the public liability insurance law as well as the nuclear liability law,” Chavan told a television channel.

“Bhopal (tragedy) has taught us that we are unprepared and we need to prepare,” he said.

His remarks come a day after a Bhopal court found seven people guilty of criminal negligence in the 1984 gas tragedy, which is recorded as the world’s biggest industrial disaster ever. The verdict, which came after 25 years, was greeted by anger by civil society, for being too little and too late.

Chavan also had to explain the stance on the draft nuclear liability law, which is currently before a parliamentary standing committee. It had been criticized for setting a low threshold for maximum compensation to be paid by operator, in the event of a disaster.

“We had no legislation or law whatever either for civil or criminal liability and that is why the Indian parliament enacted in 1991, the public liability insurance law,” he said.

The minister pointed out that the civil nuclear liability law will also fix responsibility in case of disaster.

“So, it goes without saying that we have to have a law in place which will fix the liability on the operator, the person who pollutes to pay compensation without any questions asked, in case of an unfortunate accident in our nuclear installations,” he added.

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