Kathmandu, June 20 Lawmakers in the parliamentary Health and Education panel today said there should not be any provision allowing the private sector into the nuclear field. During a thematic discussion on the Bill on Safe and Peaceful Use of Nuclear and Radioactive Material in the panel, lawmakers said the government should not allow the private sector to produce nuclear power. Chief Whip of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Dev Prasad Gurung said the private sector should not be allowed to run any nuclear production plant. Section 27 of the bill states that anyone can carry out nuclear investigation related to security in the country after obtaining licence from the government office concerned. The government introduced this bill for the first time in the country’s history. Gurung said the government should not even think of opening the way for the private sector in the nuclear sector. “Every process related to production of nuclear power should be carried out by the government,” he said. Gurung added that nuclear and radioactive materials should only be used in the field of health. Gurung was present in the panel with other lawmakers of the House of Representatives, who had registered amendment proposals on the bill. He further said if the government mechanism failed to restrict the private sector in this field, it would invite disaster. Another lawmaker Khagaraj Adhikari said the government should take total control of this sector. “Nobody should be allowed to produce or carry out research on nuclear energy,” he said. Yogesh Bhattarai, a member of the committee, said it would be too early to hand over anything to do with nuclear energy to the private sector. “If you see big countries now, they control armies and maintain strong control of the nuclear sector,” he said. Replying to lawmakers and defending the bill from the government’s side, Minister of Education and Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel said the bill was not brought in to produce power. “Rather, the bill was brought to enhance technologies in the field of health, agriculture, water, animal science and other areas,” he said. As a member of the United Nations, Nepal should bring this law, the education minister added. He said most countries, who are members of the UN, have already brought this law. “But we are late. We should not be late. We should come up with a law.” Secretary at the ministry Krishna Raj BC said the bill was brought to manage use of nuclear and radioactive materials. Altogether, 17 amendment proposals were registered. Majority of the lawmakers sought to exclude the word ‘nuclear’ from the Bill, stating the country should not set up a nuclear plant and acquire nuclear weapons as they could be dangerous for the country. Lawmakers stated that Nepal required a law that would regulate the use of radioactive materials and not any bill on use of nuclear power. As per the bill, if someone without a licence misuses technology related to nuclear and radioactive power and kills someone, the person will be jailed for life. If someone injures another by misusing the technology, s/he will be fined seven to 12 lakh rupees and be slapped five to 10 years imprisonment, the bill states. Nepal had signed the Nuclear weapons Prohibition Treaty in September 2017 during the 72nd UN General Assembly. Before that Nepal had already become a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency on 8 July 2008.
‘Keep private players away from nuclear sector’
Published: 12:15 pm Jun 21, 2019