US-India Business Council's guarded comments on civil nuclear liability bill

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New Delhi, Aug 31 (ANI): Issuing a guarded reaction to the passage of the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill passed by Indian Parliament, the United States-India Business Council (USIBC) has said it had 'compromised on the indemnity clause demanded by American companies to protect it from liability in case of a nuclear accident.

In a statement, the USIBC that it was 'reviewing the legislation passed by the Indian Parliament concerning civil nuclear liability.

The statement said that a nuclear liability regime consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC)," will safeguard the Indian public interest by delivering swift, certain and adequate compensation in the unlikely event of an accident," .

"It will also attract to India the most responsible international suppliers, and integrate Indian industry into the global commercial nuclear supply chain,' it added.

The statement warned that "the absence of an effective, CSC regime could preclude involvement by the private sector and stymie India's multi-year effort to develop civil nuclear power.'he statement further said that it would seek clarification from the Government of India on whether and how Indian and foreign suppliers can move forward with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to vitalize India's nuclear power sector.'

According to analysts, the bill in its current form would preclude India from signing contracts with suppliers.

"The Nuclear Power Corporation of India is not just any ordinary entity, but the only customer that every supplier in the world has in India and they know their suppliers better than anyone else, " said an analyst.

The Civil Nuclear Liability Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 25 after months of complicated negotiations and with the help of a political compromise between the government and the Opposition.

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 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.

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

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