New Delhi: The UPA government on Wednesday tabled the contentious Civil Nuclear Liability Bill, 2010 on the floor of the Lok Sabha after addressing the concerns raised by the Opposition over the liability cap in case of any mishap.
The bill was tabled in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of State in PMO Prithviraj Chavan, who said the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill was vital for the country’s overall development and in meeting its energy requirements.
The minister also made an appeal to all major political parties to extend full support and ensure the smooth passage of the nuclear bill in the best interest of the nation.
“I want to acknowledge the work done by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, civil society groups, media and my colleagues from BJP, Left and other parties for their valuable suggestions regarding contentious issues. The bill is vital for India’s energy security and intends to ensure prompt compensation to victims in case of any eventuality.”
“I would like to assure this august House that the liability cap of Rs 1500 crore in the event of any mishap as agreed by all political parties is at par with the similar provisions in the US,” he stated.
He also assured that the government has fully addressed the concerns regarding safety raised by the Opposition, and agreed to make necessary amendments in the draft of the bill.
“I would like to thank my colleagues for displaying an unprecedented political consensus on such a crucial issue, “Chavan said.
In a bid to ensure its smooth passage in the Lok Sabha, the UPA government agreed to BJP’s demand to amend the bill and remove the contentious word ‘intent’ from Clause 17 (b) and (c), dealing with supplier’s liability in case of a mishap.
Prior to the government’s move, senior BJP leaders had met this morning and decided to move an amendment in Lok Sabha to remove the word "intent" from the Clause 17 (b) and (c) of the Nuclear Bill, as the party believes it dilutes liability upon the suppliers.
The Opposition parties were crying foul after the Union Cabinet on Friday cleared 18 amendments, including the one which deals with a clause on liability of a supplier in the event of a nuclear accident, as per the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology.
The controversial amendment to Clause 17 (b), made on Friday, clearly stated that an operator of a nuclear plant can seek damages only if an accident has occurred due to the “intent” of the supplier or its employees.
The BJP wanted the amended clause be referred back to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
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The party had made it clear that it would be very difficult for it to support the bill unless the government relented and brought back the original proposed legislation.
The Left parties were also up in arms accusing the government of diluting the suppliers’ liability at the behest of the US.