After finally signing the pact on reprocessing spent fuel with the US, the government is gearing up to table the civil nuclear liability bill in Parliament in the monsoon session so that it is in place before President Barack Obama visits in November.
Sources have indicated the possibility of raising the liability of the operator above the current proposal of Rs 500 crore, as demanded by the Opposition, but are wary of extending the liability of foreign suppliers too far.
The sources also hinted at tweaking provisions in the bill to make the arrangement between the operators and suppliers more transparent, besides taking a "relook" at compensation.
With these changes, the government is hopeful of mustering the numbers in the House to pass the bill, which the Opposition had objected to.
The bill—introduced in the Lok Sabha in May—is under consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology.
The panel is expected to complete examination of witnesses by August 2 and 3 and take up clause-by-clause examination of the bill on August 5 and 6.
The Centre will get back with its responses and proposed changes by August 9 or 10. According to sources, the report will be submitted before August 12.
The passing of the bill is the only remaining step before US companies can start selling reactors to India. But sources said the question was of a "liability regime" that addresses the issues of hassle-free compensation to the victims of nuclear accident.
The Opposition, however, remains critical.
"The cap apart, there are issues regarding environment and public health to be addressed. And the argument that American life is more precious than Indian life is not acceptable," said a senior BJP leader.