We will never accept nuclear liability bill: BJP

Last Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010 - 21:41

New Delhi: BJP on Monday accused the UPA of
trying to push the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill,
2010, in Lok Sabha under US pressure and said it would never
support the legislation as by putting all liability on the
government, it was transferring this burden to the taxpayer.

"The bill not only limits the liability, it also
transfers a large part of the liability to the government, in
other words, the taxpayer," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha
said.

BJP, which had earlier demanded that the government give
an explanation as to why it was deferring tabling of the bill
after listing it in the day`s business in the Lower House,
also does not want a cap on the liability.

Sinha himself wrote a letter to the Secretary General,
Lok Sabha, citing the problems BJP has with the bill.

BJP alleged that the bill was being brought under US
pressure mainly to keep two American multinationals --
Westinghouse and General Electric -- from paying any liability
and making the Indian government liable to pay in case of an
accident. "We will never accept this bill," Sinha said.

Opposition leaders alleged that US was putting pressure
on India after Union Carbide had to pay huge compensation to
victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called Leader of
Opposition Sushma Swaraj yesterday to convince her, Sinha
said, adding that BJP would not relent.

BJP also wants parity with US citizens and Indians in
compensation and insists that the bill violates Article 21
(Right to protection of life and personal liberty).

"The liability under Price Anderson Act of the US is $
12.5 billion which is 23 times higher than the liability fixed
for an Indian operator. Clearly, the life of an Indian is only
worth a dime compared to the life of an American," Sinha said,
adding that this was violation of Article 14 (Right to
Equality) of Indian Constitution.

The main opposition alleged that government is bowing to
the US while countries like Russia, Germany, Canada and France
were ready for a deal without these "discriminatory" clauses.

"Moreover, the Indian courts will not have any
jurisdiction in these matters...No Indian court can order any
nuclear supplier to pay any compensation," Sinha maintained.

He alleged that the Indian government was allowing
foreign suppliers to go "scot-free" which should not be the
case under the "polluter pays principle".

"This shows the government is functioning in a
muddle-headed manner...It appears that this government is
totally rudderless and nobody is in-charge of it," the former
External Affairs Minister alleged.

The main opposition argued that it was not stopping the
nuclear deal but asserted that there cannot be a
"country-specific law" in India.

"We have no trust in this government," Sinha said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 15, 2010 - 21:41

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