New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government plans to introduce in Parliament on Monday a controversial proposal seeking to apportion liability for nuclear accidents, a move opposition parties are determined to challenge.
The government has listed the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, essential for the operationalization of the Indo-US nuclear deal, in its list of business.
But the Left parties claimed the Bill is meant to serve the US nuclear industry’s interests and declared they won’t allow its introduction.
“The clauses of the Bill are so devised as to practically make it impossible to assign liability to the supplier... All the liability falls upon the operator in India, which is the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. The operators’ liability is fixed at Rs500 crore while the overall liability is capped at around Rs2,200 crore. This means the government will have to foot the bill for the rest of the amount,” they said in a statement.
Sushma Swaraj, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, had earlier said her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would also oppose the Bill. Like the Left parties, the BJP objects to the liability cap for the operator.
Swaraj said the liability for the operator was as high as Rs70,000 crore in the US.
But a Congress minister said the government was in no hurry to pass the legislation. “We are ready for amendments and let the Bill go to (the parliamentary) standing committee,” the minister said.
National security adviser Shivshankar Menon had met BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and S.S. Ahluwalia to discuss the Bill, which the cabinet had approved on 30 November 2009.