Nuke bill to protect suppliers; compensation cap low: Left

The Left parties today opposed the civil nuclear liability bill saying it would "protect" the suppliers of nuclear equipment in case of an incident and the compensation cap suggested in it was "extremely low".

New Delhi: The Left parties today opposed the
civil nuclear liability bill saying it would "protect" the
suppliers of nuclear equipment in case of an incident and the
compensation cap suggested in it was "extremely low".

Two members of the Standing Committee on Science and
Technology belonging to the CPI(M) and Forward Bloc submitted
dissent notes to the panel, whose report on the Civil
Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, was tabled in
Parliament.

In his note, Saman Pathak (CPI-M) said the draft
legislation finalised by the panel had gone "one step back
from even the original draft bill in protecting the supplier"
of nuclear technology from paying compensation in case of an
accident.

Noting that the proposed measure had put the entire
liability on the government, he said even the compensation
amount provided for was "extremely low given the possible
scale of a nuclear incident and global standards".

Countries like Germany, Japan and Finland provided for
unlimited liability, while those like the USA have limited
operator liability up to about USD 10.2 billion, he said.

Pathak also wanted inclusion of a clause to ensure
recourse for the operator or government in case an incident
occurs due to supply of defective equipment or faulty design.

He questioned the need for India making provisions in the
law which were "compatible" with the Convention on
Supplementary Compensation (CSC) which barred any liability on
suppliers. "I am not convinced why India should join CSC," he
said.

As the changes suggested by him were not accepted, Pathak
said, "I am constrained to draw the conclusion that provisions
of the bill will unduly favour the foreign suppliers of
nuclear equipments" and added that it had failed to ensure the
interests of Indian people.

Barun Mukherjee (Forward Bloc) blamed the government for
its "biased" approach by making it clear that it was intending
to join the CSC.

Observing that it was not obligatory for any country to
join any international nuclear liability convention, he said
many nations like Canada, China, Japan, Korea and South Africa
were not members of any such convention.

"Out of 30 nuclear power countries, only four have
ratified CSC so long. It is still not in vogue. It needs other
countries to join and ratify it," Mukherjee said.

The Left leader said there were "enough indications in
several clauses of the bill that it facilities entry of a
private, Indian or foreign, operator (in the Indian nuclear
industry) in the near future, which will be detrimental to the
interests of the country."

Mukherjee also termed the operator`s liability cap as
"absurdly low".

PTI

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