An environmental health researcher has sought intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, alleging that drafters of the Nuclear Liability Bill have ignored recommendations of the International Labour Organisation on radiation protection.
"India has ratified Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but its provisions have not been complied with. It is yet to ratify ILO's Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which is concerning Prevention and Control of Occupational Hazards caused by Carcinogenic Substances.
"Drafters of the Nuclear Liability Bill appear to have ignored their recommendations," convenor and founder of Toxics Watch Alliance Gopal Krishna charged in his petition submitted to the Commission on Tuesday.
The ILO's Radiation Protection Convention with regard to maximum permissible doses of ionising radiations which may be received from external or internal sources and the maximum permissible amounts of radioactive substances has been ignored, he claimed.
In his petition to NHRC, Krishna also submitted that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests in its 25-page report on the Bill, which was tabled in Parliament on August 18, was of the opinion that the government must have sought the opinion of ministries which are even "distantly" related to any provision of the legislation.
"When the committee inquired from the secretaries of ministries/departments of government of India who appeared before the committee as to whether the draft nuclear liability bill was referred to them for their views/comments, some of them viz the ministries of health & family welfare, agriculture, labour & employment, food & public distribution, etc replied in the negative," he quoted the committee as saying in the report.
He pleaded the commission to take cognisance of the submissions of "these secretaries" and direct the concerned authorities to internalise their suggestions in the text of the Bill to protect the human rights of Indian citizens and safeguard intergenerational equity.
Krishna requested the commission to start proceedings to ascertain from the authorities concerned both at the centre and the state as to how would they respond in the event of a nuclear disaster, number of existing factories and industries in the country where radioactive material is used and whether they maintain an inventory of such products.
He also wanted the commission to ascertain the total number of workers employed in the nuclear power industries and other nuclear installations, institutions which have the competence to decontaminate and the medical, occupational health and scientific institutions which can diagnose radiation exposure. Among other things, he also urged the commission to ascertain what action has been taken by the central government and the state governments to protect exposure from radiation in the future.
"The commission may inquire or investigate into the problem of radioactive radiation and issue necessary directions/ recommendations for its prevention and appropriate remedial steps to the central government/state governments and UTs," he pleaded.