After two months of deliberations by a Parliamentary standing committee, consensus still eludes the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 effectively bringing the proposed legislation, giving effect to Indo-US nuclear agreement, to square one.
But even as the opposition from the BJP and Left continued in the committee meeting on Tuesday, Congress sources indicated finalisation of the report on the bill, by the standing committee, on Wednesday.
"There were reservations, objections over the provisions and also the need of the bill which continued even today. But, the bill will be discussed and the report will be adopted by the committee tomorrow (Wednesday),” a panel member told HT after the meeting with officials of atomic energy department seeking clarifications.
The persistence approach is evident even as both BJP and Left threatened to issue a dissenting note over the bill. "Let the committee adopt the bill. We will register our dissent and oppose the bill again in Parliament," a BJP member said.
The BJP and Left on Monday had sought clarification over the bill “which mentions intention to join the Convention on Supplementary Compensation which would free US suppliers of liability.” The committee, which was supposed to take up clause-by-clause examination of the bill on Monday, was not able to do so even on Tuesday.
The haste on part of the ruling side is said to be keeping in mind the November visit of US president Barack Obama. Several US companies are awaiting the bill clearance, which allows nuclear business with the country.
According to sources, the government itself is keen to bring in certain changes in the bill that would be solid and transparent. But it first wants to see what the panel report has to say.
But the main challenge for the ruling side would be passing the bill in the house, more particularly in the Rajya Sabha where its numbers are low. The bill was introduced on last day of the budget session in Lok Sabha amidst uproarious scenes and walkout of the opposition benches.
While Left parties who took the UPA I to the brink of fall-down in July 2008 over 123 Agreement with the US opposed it “tooth and nail”, the BJP had in May termed the bill “illegal and unconstitutional”.
(With inputs from Jayanth Jacob)