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Nuclear Liability Bill to be tabled on March 15

March 13, 2010 03:00 IST
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The much-debated Nuclear Liability Bill, crucial for operationalising the India-US civil nuclear deal, would be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on March 15, Minister of State for Atomic Energy Prithviraj Chavan has said.

He added that though the government and the prime minister were keen to pass the Bill as soon as possible, the expectation was that it would go to Standing Committee for scrutiny. Chavan said the government would, however, approach Speaker Meira Kumar to have a discussion on it immediately.

Explaining the provisions, he said the Bill was envisaged a cap the liability of a private operator in the civil nuclear energy sector. Several investors in the emergent energy sector were chary of having to bear the kind of ruinous liability that Dow Chemicals had to face when a gas leak from its Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in December 1984 killed and injured thousands of families.

The domestic nuclear energy sector is yet to be opened to the private sector as there are only two operators — the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and the Bharatiya Navikiya Vidyut Nigam.

While nuclear power for civilian purposes will be subject to government contracts, sub-contracts will have to be signed between the Indian government and the private operators, fixing a cap on the liability of an operator in case of an nuclear accident.

The Nuclear Liability Bill envisages setting up a Commission which will investigate and decide, if there is an accident, who was responsible for the error and fix responsibility.

Meanwhile, both the Houses were back to normal business with the Rajya Sabha even resolving to extend its sittings till March 18 from March 16 when it was previously expected to go into recess.

The Lok Sabha is expected to sit till March 16, although there is a demand from some MPs that it be adjourned a day before so that Ugadi, Gudi Padva and the Hindu new year festivities can be observed.

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