Nuke liability bill introduced in Lok Sabha

Nuke liability bill introduced in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The controversial bill that provides for payment of compensation in the event of a nuclear accident was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday amid protests and walkout by opposition NDA and Left parties which termed it as “illegal" and “unconstitutional".

The Civil Liability For Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, whose passage is a key requirement for operationalization of the Indo-US nuclear deal, was moved by minister of state in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan after a clash between ruling and opposition members.

The bill provides for the maximum liability of Rs500 crore on the part of the operator in the case of a nuclear accident, a provision that is the main cause of opposition by the NDA and Left parties.

As Chavan sought permission to introduce the bill, CPI(M) members Basudeb Acharia and Ramchandra Dome, BJP leaders M.M. Joshi and Yashwant Sinha and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the proposed legislation would violate Article 21 of the Constitution, a fundamental right that guarantees right to life.

They said the bill also compromises the right of victims to approach courts for enhanced compensation.

Amid cries of “shame, shame" from BJP members, Sinha alleged the proposed legislation was being introduced under the US pressure.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said her party had conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the bill should be amended but the government was “adamant" on introducing it in the present form.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, along with parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, argued the members could not speak on the merits of the bill at the introduction stage and could only talk about legislative competence of the House on taking up the proposed legislation.

Significantly, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD leader Lalu Prasad, who had opposed the bill in March when the first attempt was made to introduce it, this time appeared to be siding with the government.

Yadav, who along with Prasad met Mukherjee last evening, was even seen apparently trying to convince Acharia about the bill.