Nuclear liability bill headed for further delays
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 20:04
  
New Delhi: The controversial nuclear liability bill is headed for further delay in view of lack of consensus in the Parliamentary panel which is examining it.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology was to submit its report to Parliament tomorrow but decided to defer it by a week as it failed to bridge the differences among members on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010.

The BJP has demanded a complete re-draft of the Bill and raised questions over key provisions including a cap on the compensation to be paid in event of a nuclear accident and acceding to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation.

It had also demanded a 'no fault compensation regime' with payouts to be decided by the Claims Commissioner and a bar on private sector operators for nuclear power plants.

Top BJP leaders, including L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi put across these demands at a meeting with Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee. This was the first political dialogue on the issue since the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 7.

T Subbirami Reddy, Chairman of the Committee also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is understood to have briefed him on the progress on the Bill.

Singh is believed to have asked Reddy to sort out the differences with the opposition amicably.

"The committee cannot hustle through the proceedings," Jaswant Singh told reporters after the meeting with Mukherjee.

Another BJP leader said the Committee report could not be finalised "at gunpoint" as it was a key piece of legislation to provide relief to the victims of a nuclear accident.

The Committee was to meet today to adopt the Bill and was expected to submit its report either tomorrow or the day after to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari.

Meanwhile, Reddy said today's meeting was postponed and he had sought an extension for a week for the Committee to submit its report on the Bill.

The Committee is now expected to meet on Monday, August 16 to finalise its report and submit the same to Parliament two days later.

Government sources said they were ready to consider demands of the Opposition and indicated that there were difference of opinion in their ranks.

The BJP also insisted that existing nuclear power plants be covered under the liability legislation. It also wanted the Claims Commissioner to be the final authority in deciding the compensation and where negligence on part of the operator or the supplier need not be proved.

It also wanted unlimited liability in case of a nuclear accident as government itself was the operator of nuclear power plants.

Mukherjee is also understood to have told the BJP leaders that the government had no plans to open the nuclear power sector to private players.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 20:04


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