Ready to discuss N-Liability Bill `coolly`: Govt to Oppn

Under attack from the Oppn over the nuke liability bill, the govt on Wednesday offered them dialogue.

New Delhi: Under attack from the entire
opposition over the nuclear liability bill, the government on Wednesday
offered them dialogue saying all issues, including raising the
compensation amount, could be "discussed coolly".

At the same time, Science and Technology Minister
Prithviraj Chavan said that the government had no plans to
open up the nuclear sector for foreign investment.

"I think there is a lot of scare being created by certain
political parties, particularly by our Left friends. The
moment the issue of any likely foreign participation comes up
there is a red flag.

"I think these issues could be coolly discussed either in
Parliament or in standing committee or we are willing to
discuss it in personal meeting," Chavan said at a conference
organised by Assocham.

However, if the opposition is political it was a
different matter, he said, adding "then we have to take it

On demands for increasing the compensation amount by the
operator, Chavan said all these issues can be discussed at
various fora or even personal meetings. "Let us begin
somewhere and not be obstructionist," he said.

He said there was no question of American companies
setting up nuclear reactors in India as the law does not
permit the same.

"There is no policy to allow FDI in the nuclear sector,"
Chavan said, adding that words like investments and
procurements were being used very loosely in the debate on the
liability bill.

He said the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1962 does not
allow any private operator to produce nuclear energy and the
government has "no intention right now" of amending the law to
seek foreign investment.

The government was considering amendments to the AEA to
make regulatory bodies autonomous and also to make it
compliant with certain international conventions, he said.

Chavan made it clear that state-owned Nuclear Power
Corporation of India Limited would be buying equipment from
suppliers in America, Russia and France and there was no
question of seeking any investments from them.

"It is purely a buyer-supplier relationship. We are not
seeking investments," he said.

Chavan said issues like increasing compensation for
private players could be looked at when the government decides
to allow private participation in the nuclear sector.