Controversy over amendment in N-bill was unnecessary: Govt

Government rejected Left parties` charge that Nuclear Liability Bill was designed to benefit American equipment suppliers and dismissed as unnecessary the controversy over a Parliamentary Committee recommendation for an amendment.

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2010, 22:37 PM IST

New Delhi: Government on Friday rejected Left
parties` charge that the Nuclear Liability Bill was designed
to benefit American equipment suppliers and dismissed as
unnecessary the controversy over a Parliamentary Committee
recommendation for an amendment in supplier`s clause.

"Some quarters have expressed apprehensions that this
bill is designed to address or benefit a particular country.
It is totally wrong. I deny it emphatically," Minister of
State in PMO told reporters here.
On the row over inclusion of the word "And" between
Clause 17(A) and (B), he said there was "a lot of unncessary
debate" on the issue.

BJP and Left had contended that clubbing of the two
sub-clauses had diluted the right of the operator of an Indian
nuclear plant to seek compensation from a supplier in the
event of an accident.

After protests from BJP and Left, the Cabinet has decided
not to accept the Standing Committee`s recommendation to
include the word "And".

Chavan said the Clause 17 has been amended in such a way
that no operator can shirk its responsibility on paying
compensation to victims upfront.

The committee had recommended that the Clause 17 should
be read as "the operator of a nuclear installation shall have
the right of recourse where -- (A) "such right is expressly
provided for in a contract in writing and (B) "the nuclear
incident has resulted as a consequence of latent or patent
defect, supply of sub-standard material, defective equipment
or services or from the gross negligence on the part of the
supplier of the material, equipment or services."
"We accepted the formulation given by the Leader of
Opposition (in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley)," Chavan said.

The proposed legislation, crucial for operationalisation
for India`s civil nuclear deals with various countries,
including the US, will be moved in the Lok Sabha for
consideration on August 25.

Addressing another key Left concern, he said it was not
necessary for India to join the Convention on Supplementary
Compensation which is being planned under the aegis of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Chavan said he has also told the Left parties of
government plans to strengthen the Atomic Energy Regulatory
Board (AERB) by giving it more autonomy. Currently, the AERB
functions under the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

He said the government has decided to preface the
contentious Clause 17 with the wording that the operator
could, after compensating the victims, exercise the right of
recourse against the supplier.

This is aimed at addressing the concerns that the BJP and
Left had over clubbing of the Clause.

PTI