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Govt drops controversial change in N-Bill

Buckling under opposition pressure, government has dropped a controversial change in the Nuclear Liability Bill which was today approved by the Union Cabinet, brightening chances of its passage in Parliament next week.



New Delhi: Buckling under opposition
pressure, government has dropped a controversial change in the
Nuclear Liability Bill which was today approved by the Union
Cabinet, brightening chances of its passage in Parliament next
week.

The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, accepted 18 recommendations made by the
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology
that examined the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill,
2010.

It, however, rejected one proposed amendment which had
triggered a row as it was seen as diluting the right of a
nuclear plant operator, which will be government undertaking,
to seek compensation from the supplier of equipment and
material in case of an accident.

The rejected recommendation was the addition of the word
"And" between Clause 17(A) and (B), which had triggered
objections from BJP and Left parties on the ground that it
would dilute the operator`s right to claim damages.

The committee had recommended that 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."

Instead, the government decided to preface the 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.
The BJP, which had agreed to support the bill, yesterday
raised objection to the Committee`s recommendation for
addition of word "and", saying it was not discussed with it.

The Left also attacked the government, saying it was
trying to protect the suppliers by diluting the operator`s
right to seek compensation.
The fresh concerns led to a series of consultations
within the government throughout yesterday and it was decided
that the Committee`s particular recommendation for clubbing
two sub-clauses would not be accepted.

After clearance by the Cabinet, the bill is expected to
be moved for consideration in the Lok Sabha on August 25.

PTI

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