Civil nuclear bill headed for delay, no consensus yet (Lead)August 11th, 2010 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The tabling of the contentious nuclear liability bill in parliament appears set for further delay as the term of a parliamentary panel formed to look into it was extended by a week and the BJP insisted its suggestions be included in the final draft.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which was tasked with examining the bill after the deadlock in the budget session of parliament, was to submit its report on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010, to parliament Thursday. But with no consensus emerging, it has decided to defer it by a week.
T. Subbirami Reddy, chairman of the committee, said he had sought a week’s extension for the committee to submit its report on the bill. He also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on the progress on the Bill, said sources.
The committee is now expected to meet Aug 16 to finalize its report and submit it to parliament a day or two later.
In a bid to break the deadlock over the controversial legislation, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday met top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prithviraj Chavan were also present at the first “political meeting” to break the impasse over the legislation.
“The committee cannot hustle through the proceedings,” Jaswant Singh, a former foreign minister, told reporters after the meeting.
BJP leaders, however, held out the possibility of a thaw, saying it was willing to back the legislation by only the condition its suggestions were incorporated by the government.
“There can be a meeting ground,” a senior BJP leader said, adding that they had told the government to remove the “unnecessary provisions” from the bill.
According to sources, some of these suggestions may not be acceptable to the government which may have to find a middle ground to address concerns over the legislation whose passage is crucial to implementing the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.
The BJP leaders suggested there should not be an upper limit in the no-fault liability regime which effectively means unlimited liability, a proposal the government will find hard to accept.
The BJP leaders stressed that there was need for the government to join the Convention of Supplementary Compensation (CSC) since foreign operators were not being allowed at present. They said that the bill should be India-specific and needs to be redrafted.
The party had also demanded a “no fault compensation regime” with payouts to be decided by the Claims Commissioner and a bar on private sector operators for nuclear power plants. BJP sources said that the government told them that there was no proposal at present to allow private or foreign players to operate the reactors.
The BJP had said Monday that it will not hesitate to give a dissent note on the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee looking at the civil nuclear liability bill if its concerns are not taken into account by the government.
The BJP has all along said that government should clarify whether it was thinking of allowing private operators to run nuclear plants now or in future.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, seeks to create a mechanism for compensating victims of nuclear damage arising from a nuclear accident.
The bill fixes no-fault liability on operators and gives them a right to recourse. It caps the liability of operator at Rs.500 crore and makes the central government liable for damage exceeding this amount up to 300 million SDR.
With the Left firmly opposed to the bill, the government will need the support of the BJP for the smooth sailing of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
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- Nuclear Liability Bill to be tabled in Parliament today - Aug 18, 2010
- BJP relents, nuclear bill report in parliament Wednesday (Night Lead) - Aug 17, 2010
- Nuclear bill report in parliament Wednesday, BJP positive (Lead) - Aug 17, 2010
- Nuclear bill not designed to benefit any country: Chavan - Aug 20, 2010
- Near unanimous Lok Sabha nod to n-liability bill (Roundup) - Aug 25, 2010
- Government calls for public consultation on nuclear liability bill - Jun 24, 2010
- Cabinet to discuss nuclear bill changes Friday - Aug 19, 2010
- Ready to discuss modifications to n- bill: Chavan (Lead) - Aug 24, 2010
- Government retains suppliers' negligence clause in nuclear bill - Jun 16, 2010
- N-plant operator's liability may be unlimited: Subbarami Reddy (Lead) - Jul 07, 2010
- Government to table nuclear bill amid fierce opposition - Mar 15, 2010
- N-bill liability cap hiked to Rs.1,500 crore, suppliers' liability fixed (Roundup) - Aug 18, 2010
- Government accepts BJP demand on suppliers' liability in n-bill (Lead) - Aug 20, 2010
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