The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh introduced in Lok Sabha, the “Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015” which seeks to amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1962, in order to overcome difficulties encountered in the setting up of new nuclear projects and enhancement of nuclear power generation.
Pertinent to mention that, as on date, the nuclear power operations are being carried out by only two Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) namely Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), both of which are under the administrative control of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Formation of joint-venture companies by NPCIL with other PSUs of India for civil nuclear power project has been under the consideration of the government but it requires additional funding. However, as per the existing norms this is not feasible because the expression “government company” as defined in the existing Act means a company in which, not less than 51% of the paid-up share capital is held by the central government, which in other words, precludes a government company from entering into a joint-venture with another PSU.
The Bill introduced yesterday seeks to overcome this hassle by amending the definition of “government company” under Clause (bb) of Sub-Section (1) of Section 2 of the said Act with a view to expand its scope to include such joint-venture companies as may be formed between NPCIL and other PSUs. The Bill also proposes to make a consequential amendment in Section 14 of the said Act to enable the Central Government to issue licence to such joint-venture companies to set up nuclear power plants, take measures for safe operation and ensure safe disposal of nuclear material. The Bill further provides for cancellation of licence in case the licensee ceases to be a government company.