'Can send N-liability bill for scrutiny if needed'

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New Delhi, Apr 22: Dismissing charges that the Nuclear Liability Bill was being introduced under foreign pressure, the government on Thursday, Apr 22 said that it was ready to get the bill scrutinised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The bill which offers compensation to the victims of nuclear accidents, is the key to implementing the Indo- US nuclear deal.

"Parliament is the right forum (to discuss the Bill). If the House wants to send the Bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, we will do (that)," Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan said in Rajya Sabha.

During the Question Hour, Chavan said that Bill has been under consideration for a long time as the Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991, which was enacted in the wake of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, does not apply for nuclear incidents.

"Thus, at present there is no law to provide compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident. Is there any pressure (from foreign companies to bring the Bill)? Absolutely none," he said.

"I refute the charge that the Bill is being brought under pressure from any particular country," Chavan said.

Without revealing a time frame for the introduction of the bill, he said that the government's intention in introducing the bill in the Lok Sabha was to provide civil liability for nuclear damages.

Chavan rule out the possibility of any foreign company setting up a nuclear power plant in India as the Atomic Energy Act forbids any firm other then a PSU to set up and operate nuclear plants in the country.

"Nuclear power plants can only be set up either by the Central Government itself or through any authority or corporation established by it or a Central Government company," he said.

He said that India was holding discussion with three countries for supply of nuclear reactors and all had unanimous said that the liability, in case of an accident, should be directed to the operator.

"It is absolute liability of the operator in case of any incident," he said. "The proposed legislation provides for prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident."

"The Bill facilitates payment of compensation by enforcing no-fault liability on the operator of a nuclear installation," he said.

OneIndia News

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