Govt relents,changes controversial clauses of N-bill

The Bill is crucial to civil nuclear agreements with various countries,particularly the US.

Written by Reuters | New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2010 1:17:21 pm

Under Opposition attack for trying to dilute the provisions of the Nuclear Liability Bill,the government on Friday made certain amendments to strengthen the proposed legislation which was approved by the Union Cabinet,paving the way for its consideration in Parliament.

The Cabinet,at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,approved almost all key recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee that examined the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill,2010.

It,however,rejected a recommendation for addition of a word – and — between Clause 17(A) and (B) which talks about the right of the nuclear power plant operators to recourse for compensation from supplier in the event of an accident.

The recommendation for addition of the word had triggered objections from BJP and Left parties which said it would dilute the right to seek compensation from the supplier.

The committee had recommended that Clause 17 should be read as – the operator of a nuclear installation shall have the right of recourse where: A,such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing and B,the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of latent or patent defect,supply of sub-standard material,defective equipment or services or from the gross negligence on the part of the supplier of the material,equipment or services.

Instead,the government decided to preface the Clause 17 with the wording that the operator could,after compensating the victims,exercise the right of recourse against the supplier.

This is aimed at addressing the concerns that the BJP and Left had over clubbing of the Clause.

The BJP,which had agreed to support the Bill,raised objections on Thursday to the Committee recommendation for addition of the word – and — saying this was not discussed.

The Left also attacked the government,saying it was trying to protect the suppliers by diluting the right of the operator to seek compensation.

The fresh concerns led to a series of consultations within the government throughout yesterday and it was decided that the Committee particular recommendation for clubbing two sub-clauses would not be accepted.

After being cleared by the Cabinet,the Bill is expected to be considered by Parliament in the next few days.

The Bill,which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 7,

is crucial for the operations of civil nuclear agreements with various countries,particularly the US.

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