Lok Sabha passes Nuclear Liability Bill

New Delhi, Aug 25 (ANI): The Civil Nuclear Liability Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday after months of complicated negotiations and with a political compromise between the Central Government and the Opposition.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh assured the parliament that the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill did not compromise India's interests, saying it completes our journey to end the apartheid in the nuclear field.

"I categorically state that this Bill is a completion of journey to end the nuclear apartheid which the world had imposed on India. To say that this Bill is aimed at advancing US interest is far from truth; and history will be the judge," said Dr Singh.

"We will do everything to strengthen the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Board. The concern over safety is one I share with the Opposition. India wished to use nuclear energy in a major way," he added over the concern of the Opposition over the Bill.

The Prime Minister said the Government was indulging in a 'sleight of hand' by first introducing the word 'and' and later 'intent' in the draft bill, while referring to various attempts by the Centre to introduce contentious clauses in the Bill.

Referring to various attempts by the government to introduce contentious clauses in the Bill on which it had to backtrack, Singh said the government was indulging in a "sleight of hand" by first introducing the word 'and' and later 'intent' in the draft bill.

The Central Government tabled the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill on wednesday and dropped a controversial amendment to a contentious clause on the liability of suppliers in case of accident in the civil nuclear damages bill, in a bid to evolve a consensus on the measure.

Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan moved the Bill in the House and tabled an amendment to Clause 17(B), which now does not have the word 'intent' with regard to suppliers or their employees in causing an accident in a nuclear plant.

"The nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of an act of supplier or his employee, which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects or sub-standard services," reads the rephrased amendment now.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Opposition had on Tuesday decided to put the Government on the back foot over the issue of Nuclear Liability Bill in the Parliament today.

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

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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