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Nuclear liability bill not a sell out to US companies

March 15, 2010 17:02 IST

Clearing the air on the Nuclear Liability Bill, the UPA government on Monday said there is a real urgency to join the international legal liability compensation regime, which is why it wants to pass the bill.

Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said: "India is not a part of any legal compensation regime and we would like to become a member."

India is aiming to join International convention on supplementary compensation (CSC), which already has 55 countries as members. India had also examined Vieena and Paris Conventions.

India can only join the international legal compensation regime once the bill is passed, said Chavan.

The bill, which was to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, was deferred after the Opposition sought an explanation on why it was being deferred when it was listed for discussion.

The BJP said they saw the bill as a sell out to US nuclear companies and have even termed it unconstitutional. The government has agreed to have a discussion on the bill, but not on the merits of the bill. It is ready to discuss the bill's constitutional validity and competence of the House.

The bill has proposed a liability cap of $300 million on the supplier in case of damage or accident, which is considered too low by the Opposition. The government, however, argues that if the cap is increased, suppliers will increase costs and added that if the cost of the cap is too high, suppliers will be reluctant to bid.

Chavan said there is no pressure from Washington and, the bill is uneccessarily being stringed to American companies. He said the liability bill is not to benefit any one country and it is an effort to create a single window compensation system so that in case of any emergency or accidental eventuality the victims will get compensation easily. Bill proposes to set up a commission and commissioner to look into the matter pertaining to accidents.

The current session will end on March 17, and there is no clarity about when the government plans to come out with the bill. Government sources said the bill will be introduced on Tuesday.

Source: ANI