New Delhi: The government is ready to "look
into" any genuine and sincere issues the opposition may raise
over the Nuclear Liability Bill which it wants to be passed
urgently, failing which the entire atomic power generation
programme would be delayed.
Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is
in-charge of Department of Atomic Energy, said the country
lacks a law under which compensation could be awarded in the
case of a nuclear accident.
This is particularly important considering the fact that
India is gearing up for a massive expansion of its
nuclear-power sector and is in talks with US, Russia and
France for setting of their reactors here.
"They (opposition parties) have the draft Bill. Let them
suggest, we will look at it," Chavan said when asked
whether the government was ready to revisit the proposed
legislation in view of stiff opposition by BJP and the Left.
The two parties had forced the government to decide
against introduction of the Bill in Lok Sabha on March 15.
The Opposition parties are objecting to the compensation
cap of Rs 500 crore on the operator and allege the government
is letting the foreign suppliers off-the-hook.
BJP also apprehends that through the legislation, the
government is trying to enable foreign private companies to
enter India`s nuclear market.
On behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, National
Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has already met BJP
leaders to clarify any doubts regarding the Bill.
Asked the reason for the urgency to get the Bill passed
by Parliament, Chavan said "the nuclear power programme will
be delayed" if the proposed legislation is deferred.
Official sources maintained the Bill had been drafted
after careful consideration of all aspects and studying such
laws prevalent in other countries.
The government wants the Bill to be tabled in Parliament
so that any genuine and sincere issues could be addressed,
either in the Standing Committee or during the debate.
"The Bill has been drafted after careful study of global
nuclear compensation conventions. Basic principle in all these
conventions is that there is strict liability on the operator
only," they said.