The anti-nuclear activists Tuesday criticised the government in the Supreme Court for exempting the Russian firm involved in setting up Koodankulam nuclear power plant from paying damages in case of mishaps and fixing Rs 1500 crore only as maximum liability on plant's operator.
"The Rs 1500 crore liability violates the principle of strict liability based on the foundation of Article 21 of the Constitution," advocate Prashant Bhushan told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, appearing for the anti-nuclear activists.
The submission prompted the bench to ask if in case of liability being more than Rs 1500 crore "will it be borne by the tax payers?"
"It will be perhaps be the burden on the tax payers," it further observed.
The remarks were made when Bhushan argued that not only the Indian operator of the plant, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will have to bear the liability of Rs 1500 crore but it will also not have the right to recourse.
"Rs 1500 crore liability is for plant operator who has no right of recourse if the damage is due to the defect in the reactor supplied by the Russian company," he said.
He questioned the foreign company from shying away from the liability.
During the hearing, the bench also took note of the submission that the project was cleared without the detailed study about its impact on the marine life.
"We would like to see the report on the marine life," the bench said.
Meanwhile, the NPCIL placed before the bench the status report on implementation of 17 recommendations made by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on the safety and security of the plant after the Fukushima incident in Japan.
The Supreme Court court on November 21 had made it clear to the government that all safety measures for handling disaster must be put in place at the Koodankulam power plant before it is operationalised.
The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions by anti-nuclear activists challenging the commissioning of the plant on the ground that all safety measures have not been put in place.
The corporation had said deep geological repository (DGR) for keeping nuclear waste is not needed now and it will be required only after a few decades.
A DGR is a nuclear waste repository excavated below 300 meters within a stable geologic environment. It entails a combination of waste form, waste package, engineered seals and geology that is suited to provide a high level of long-term isolation and containment without future maintenance.