Govt hints at dropping contentious proposal on N-suppliers` liability

Govt has indicated that it could consider dropping a contentious proposal in nuke liability bill.

New Delhi: As it prepares to move the
nuclear liability bill in Parliament tomorrow, government
on Tuesday sought to rope in Left parties amidst indications that
it could consider dropping a contentious proposal regarding
the suppliers` liability.

Indications emerged that the government may not be averse
to dropping the provision regarding "intent" on the part of
the suppliers or their employees in case of a nuclear accident
for an operator to claim damages, a formulation hotly opposed
by BJP and Left parties.
Amid the deadlock between the government and opposition
parties, industry bodies petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh arguing that any stringent provision for supplier
liability would be counter-productive to efforts to expand the
civil nuclear sector.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, is
listed for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha tomorrow
in the backdrop of 18 amendments approved by the Union Cabinet
on the basis of recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing

Minister of State in PMO Prithviraj Chavan, who met BJP
leaders yesterday, continued his efforts to persuade the
opposition parties as he held discussions with CPI(M)
Politburo member Sitaram Yechury today.

He promised to consider the views of Left parties but the
latter remained non-committal till they read the fine print.

"The Minister appeared willing to consider our points of
view, especially those relating to the suppliers` liability.
But we have to see the fine print of the proposed
legislation," Yechury told PTI after the meeting.

He quoted Chavan as saying that the government would
consider relevant amendments moved by Left parties in the
course of discussion on the bill to be tabled in Parliament
BJP also chose to wait and watch the government`s moves
in Parliament on the issue and then take a call.

"We (BJP) have suggested the formulation on civil nuclear
bill in the meeting between Leader of the Opposition in Rajya
Sabha Arun Jaitley and Chavan. We will wait for a formulation
from the government, see what they have to say and await the
outcome in Parliament," BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

UPA constituent NCP said the bill should be passed by
taking the opposition parties into confidence.

After state-run NPCIL raised concerns over amendments to
the nuclear liability bill, industry bodies said the enactment
of the law in its present form would lead to exit of private
players from atomic power sector.

They demanded deletion of the Clause 17 (b) from the

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, FICCI
President Rajan Bharti Mittal said the controversial Clause 17
of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 was
"neither implementable nor justified".

"FICCI unequivocally supports the intent of the Bill to
provide timely and adequate compensation to all victims in
case of a nuclear incident and the absolute responsibility of
an operator that will ensure that the compensation is paid
irrespective of establishing the fault responsibility," he

"However, we thought it is important to bring to your
attention a provision in the bill, which we feel will hamper
this nuclear renaissance and completely undo the government?s
efforts to accelerate nuclear power generation in our
country," Mittal said.

He said FICCI strongly opines that Clause 17 (b), in its
present formulation, is not desirable and hence should be
deleted altogether for continued participation of nuclear
suppliers, particularly domestic and foreign, in the
Indian nuclear programme.

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said the clause
17(b) for civil nuclear liability claim on suppliers and
service providers beyond their terms of supply, for 60 years
plant life + 20 years of claim liability period, is perceived
as a major deterrent by the industry.

In a letter to Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj
Chavan, he said if there is multiple recourse, suppliers will
be required to take insurance cover for 60 + 20 years, which
is not available.

"Foreign suppliers will also not be able to participate
because of lack of insurance coverage. However, in the event
that they do, they will pass on the liability to Indian
suppliers. This will stall the growth of the nuclear
manufacturing industry in India and will be a setback for the
government`s plan to indigenise maximum supplies for the
foreign technology plants," Banerjee said.


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