Govt trying to rush through N-Bill in Par: CPI(M)

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.

PTI



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

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