Govt trying to rush through N-Bill in Par: CPI(M)
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 18:12
New Delhi: The CPI(M) today attacked the government for trying to "rush through" the civil nuclear liabilities bill in Parliament even when the US was clear that it would not lift the embargo on supplying dual use technology.

"The Prime Minister has stated in Parliament that nuclear commerce with the US will be conditional upon India receiving full civil nuclear cooperation. But the Obama Administration is very clear that these technologies will not be transferred," party leader Sitaram Yechury said here.

"Why is the Manmohan Singh government trying to rush through the measure. Are they going to give it as a gift to the US President when he comes here," he asked.

The CPI(M) leader said the dual use technologies include heavy water and those needed for enrichment and reprocessing.

Asked whether the Left parties were in coordination with BJP on the matter, Yechury replied in the negative saying there was no convergence of views with the saffron party as it was "not firm enough" on issues, including those relating to raising the compensation cap and suppliers' liability. "There are differences (with the BJP)".

Noting that leaders of CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc had met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday where they were promised of more talks on Monday, he said "we have now been informed that the (parliamentary) Standing Committee will take a view on the points we raised, so there is no further discussion with us".

On the issues the Left parties have raised on the bill, he said they want the government to exclude all references to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) from the proposed measure, saying majority of the countries, including India's neighbours, had not signed or ratified it.

He said the Left parties have also sought an increase in the cap on the liability of the nuclear facility operator from Rs 500 crore to Rs 10,000 crore in case of a nuclear incident.

Maintaining that the second cap on the entire liability, in case of a nuclear incident, to be paid by the government and the operator was fixed at 300 million Special Drawing Rights, he said there should not be any ceiling at all on the entire liability.

On the CSC, the CPI(M) leader said while most countries had not signed or ratified it as yet, India's neighbours, who could be affected in case of a nuclear incident, were also not its signatories.

He said if India joined the CSC, it would have to accept that there would be no liability on the foreign suppliers. The liability would be fixed only on the operators, which would not be in national interests.

Yechury pointed out that the legislation, at present, "virtually exempts" the foreign suppliers of nuclear equipment and materials from all liability.

The Left parties want that the foreign suppliers' liability to be fixed for supplying "defective" or "faulty design" of equipment and materials.

A nuclear accident could occur due to faulty equipment or design, so the supplier should be made liable, he said.

To a question that government or public sector firms would be liable to pay compensation, Yechury said in case the state-owned firm is privatised, the private investor has also to be made liable.

The CPI(M) leader also pointed out that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board dealt only with civil nuclear institutions, but was silent on how accidents or incidents in defence institutions would be dealt with.

The non-civil or defence installations should also be brought under the purview of the law, Yechury said and added that the people should have the same rights vis-a-vis compensation, whether the incident occurs in a defence or government or private-owned nuclear facility.


First Published: Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 18:12

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