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Par panel slams AERB on radiation safety policy

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A Parliamentary panel has slammed nuclear regulator Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for failing to bring out a comprehensive nuclear radiation safety policy for three decades and batted for giving it statutory status with enhanced legal powers.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which scrutinised CAG's report on the functioning of AERB, observed that even after three decades of its existence, the regulator is yet to formulate a nuclear radiation safety policy "in spite of a specific mandate in its constitution order of 1983".

The panel said absence of such a policy at the macro level can hamper micro level planning of radiation safety in the country.

It said it was "intriguing" that despite two committees stressing the need to have such policy in forms of manuals, codes, standards and guides, the AERB has not brought out the policy.

It also expressed "dismay" at the "protracted delays" on part of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to confer statutory status with enhanced legal powers to the regulator.

"The Committee is surprised to find that while countries such as Australia, Canada, France, United States have already conferred legal status to their nuclear regulating bodies... The legal status of AERB of India remained that of a mere subordinate authority with powers delegated to it by the central government," PAC said in its report.

The report will be tabled in Parliament in the Winter session.

It pointed that failure to have an autonomous and independent regulator "is clearly fraught with grave risks" and said besides statutory status, the AERB should also have powers to impose penalty which currently vests with the central government.

It recommended providing independent and autonomous status to AERB so that it can ensure better regulation of nuclear reactors and other radioactive materials in the country.

First Published: Fri, October 18 2013. 19:36 IST