Controversy continues on Nuclear Liability Bill

New Delhi, Aug 24 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Opposition is expected to put the Government on the back foot over the issue of Nuclear Liability Bill in the Parliament tomorrow.

The Union Cabinet cleared 18 amendments on August 20, including the one, which deals with a clause on liability of a supplier in the event of a nuclear accident.

The controversial amendment to Clause 17 (B) makes it clear that an operator of a nuclear plant can seek damages only if an accident has occurred due to the 'intent' of the supplier or its employees.

Crying foul over the issue, the BJP wants the government to refer the amended clause back to the Parliamentary Standing Committee and has made it clear that it would be very difficult to support the bill unless the government relents and brings back the original proposed legislation.

Earlier on Monday, Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan met Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and said the Central Government has an open mind on the changes and will be ready to accept any concrete suggestions, adding that Government is prepared to discuss any formulation on Clause 17 (B).

The passage of the Bill is considered important for starting nuclear commerce between India and the international community.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), which operates the country's nuclear power plants on Monday said that the terms of the supplier liability clause- on which the government is trying to work out an agreement with the Opposition-are so stringent that no supplier would come if the law was passed in its present form.

"No supplier, Indian or foreign, would come to take the liability on account of recourse of the operator for the period of some 80 odd years after the contract is executed. Under the circumstances, the provisions of 17 (B) are neither practical nor implementable," a statement issued by Sudhir Thakur, executive director (corporate planning) of NPCIL said.

Earlier, the government had listed the Bill for introduction on March 15, but had to defer it at the last moment after it realised that it did not have the requisite numbers to see its introduction in the Lok Sabha.

In the present form, the Bill limits liability to the operator for each nuclear accident at Rs 500 crore. (ANI)

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