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Fresh changes in N-bill may trigger a new row

Government has brought some fresh amendments to the Nuclear Liability Bill that are likely to trigger a fresh controversy as these could be seen as diluting the right of recourse of operator to seek damages from supplier.



New Delhi: Government has brought some fresh
amendments to the Nuclear Liability Bill that are likely to
trigger a fresh controversy as these could be seen as diluting
the right of recourse of operator to seek damages from
supplier in the event of an accident.

One of the 18 amendments cleared by the Union Cabinet
yesterday suggests that an accident in a nuclear plant should
have occurred as a consequence of an act done with an "intent"
if an operator has to claim damages from supplier.
The amended Clause 17 says "the operator of a nuclear
installation, after paying the compensation for nuclear damage
in accordance with Section 6, shall have a right of recourse
where --

(a) such right is expressly provided for in a contract in
writing;

(b) the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of
an act of supplier or his employees, done with the intent to
cause nuclear damage, and such act includes supply of
equipment or material with patent or latent defects or
sub-standard services;

(c) the nuclear incident has resulted from the act of
commission or ommission of an individual done with intent to
cause nuclear damage."

Experts feel that the mention of "intent" in the
sub-clauses (b) and (c) regarding an accident may give a route
to suppliers to escape responsibility because it would be
difficult to prove intent in any such mishap.

This amendment in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage
Bill, 2010 will be moved along with 17 other amendments in the
Lok Sabha on August 25.
Significantly, neither the original bill nor the
recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee which
examined it had contained such a proposal.

Only earlier this week, the government had to beat a
hasty retreat when a controversy arose over inclusion of a
word "And" between sub-clauses (a) and (b) in Clause 17 which
the BJP and Left parties feared diluted the supplier`s
liability in case of an accident.

The government then dropped the controversial word but
reworked the language of the Clause 17 in which the word
"intent" has been included.

CPI leader D Raja reacted strongly to the fresh changes
made by the government, saying these would dilute the
supplier`s liability drastically.

"I don`t understand what they say. Disaster is a
disaster. Who will agree that this was done wilfully or
deliberately? It is irrational and ridiculous," he said.

The Left parties would look at the amendments carefully
when these are brought to Parliament and decide their
strategy.

PTI

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