Global Watchdog Slams India's Nuclear Regulations

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Global Watchdog Slams India's Nuclear Regulations

File photo of Kudankulam nuclear power plant.


New Delhi: 

India's atomic regulatory body is not independent and lacks internal emergency arrangements, a draft report by the global nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, has said.

India, it also said, should allow more safety inspections of nuclear plants by independent bodies. These facts have often been stated by anti-nuclear activists.

The experts of the Integrated Regulatory Review Service made their assessment after visiting various nuclear facilities during a 12-day trip to India at the invitation of the government.
The global experts said India's nuclear regulatory body - the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board or AERB -- should be separated from bodies that can unduly influence its decision making. They also said India should have a system of radioactive waste management.

"The AERB is committed to pursuing the improvements suggested by the mission," said its chairman SS Bajaj, who received the draft report.

The demand for establishing a truly autonomous nuclear regulatory authority has been around for long. A bill to make AERB independent was pending with the Parliament and is now lapsed.

Established in 1983, the AERB is in charge of regulating the safety and security aspects of the country's civilian nuclear facilities. But it is not an autonomous body and reports to the Atomic Energy Commission for all practical purposes. Critics say it has been unable to perform its regulatory functions effectively.

Taking a carrot and stick approach, the experts had also applauded the Indian nuclear regulator for its "research and development infrastructure" that provides for strong reviews and assessments.

"The IAEA review team concluded that there is a strong commitment to safety in India," said team leader Ramzi Jammal, chief regulatory operations officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

India currently operates 21 nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 5780 MW.



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